Anxiety, Prayer and “The Energy of the Wave”

What I want to do this morning is run (away), so what I’m forcing myself to do is sit (still). I want to run away from the anxiety I feel about so many things, not the least of which are the fires raging here in California, the loss of life, home, habitat, and economy. There is also personal, marital, and professional grist for the mill of my unhappy mind, so I found myself doing what I often do on high stress days – (after sweeping of course). I started making a list of all the things I “have” to do today: errands, emails, the gym, banking, cooking, cleaning, but it’s total bullshit.  I don’t have to do any of it, but I would much prefer to do those things than to be present to the world’s pain, or my own. If I stay busy with what is “urgent” then I can ignore what is important.

Is a trip to Vons to buy juice boxes for Molly’s lunch more important than struggling with some life questions that might set me on a new path? Nope, but it’s way easier to check it off my list.

I don’t have to put it in such binary terms. I can do both kinds of things. I can work out, go grocery shopping, put in a half-day at Wavelines and have time for meditation, and journaling, but the temptation is to start checking things off the “urgent” list and never get to the end of it, and therefore never get to the things that are ultimately transformative and life-giving. For all the days I follow that pattern, a beautiful part of what it means to be human – to learn, to change, to grow in life and love – is lost. So today, I am starting with the prayer and meditation, with poetry and writing to all of you and I’ll get to rest later. (Tim, I’m going to be a little late getting to the shop today!)

Let me leave you with this thought.

I want to do something to ease the suffering of those affected by the California wildfires, but I’m too far away to be of any help personally. So I can donate some money, reach out to those I know are hurting and I can pray. I’m not sure exactly what good that last item does, but this poem by Alice Walker in her latest book, Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart, has strengthened my resolve to keep at it.

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 9.43.40 AM
pc: finn kirkpatrick

“The Energy of the Wave”

As a child I sensed

but did not


the power

of prayer.

It was my innocence

of the depths

that kept me unaware.

How could the passion of the heart

sent flying towards others

through humble words

change anything?

Or, rather,

what might this change?

 But prayer is an energy

that crosses mountains and deserts

and continents and seas

and is never stopped

nor even slowed

by anything.

It arrives

at its destination

as a blessing

that says: I feel – though it is but

a shadow of your sorrow –

the suffering

that has befallen


Though far away,

you are securely cradled

 in the safety

of my heart.

I am but a droplet

in what must become

a vast sea

to create the big wave

that washes


whatever demons

are harming


Prayer is the beginning: when

we don’t know

what else to do.

It is in this


of awareness and near impotence



of butchered Africa

that we stand with you.


Walker dedicated this poem to the people of Africa, but I am confident in its universal application. So let us pray today for all the sorrows in all the hearts in all parts of the world, as far as we can imagine and as close as our own. Let our prayers be a droplet in a wave of compassion, generosity, forgiveness and mercy that this world so desperately needs.


Leave a Comment

  1. Ali, this brought tears to my eyes (as do many of your posts) You so eloquently describe what we are all feeling in our hearts. I have never seen more fear and unrest in what is happening all around us. Prayer reminds us that there is (Thankfully) someone else in charge, and he has promised that he will never abandon us! I absolutely love the metaphor of the Wave!


  2. Hi Alison! My name is Carrie Smith and I somewhat know of you through your family cause I grew up and went to school at SSJ. You lived in the same neighborhood as the Hyinks and my sister was good friends with Nicole and Becky Andrews was my best friend who had a baby with Chris Hyink. Also, Tim was a year younger then me at SSJ and your older brother Charley, ironically went to Grad school with my husband at SDSU before we met. Anyway, all kinds of connections but I somehow stumbled on your blog entry on your adopted daughter and loved it!!! I am actually adopted and I thought it was so beautifully written and I cried for sure. Anyway, my husband and I have an old-new vlog called We actually just started doing some new vlogs this week and last and they were on anxiety which was the heading for this new vlog entry.

    I was wondering if you would ever be open to being interviewed on teen pregnancy? December is a good month to air it so maybe next year? Anyway, you can watch some of the videos and see if your interested? The goal is that we are going to be interviewing people eventually but we have some good topics lined up. Do you sell books or is your blog just for fun?

    Love and Blessings, Carrie Smith (Maguin was my maiden name)

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Ali, why is it that you have the uncanny ability to reach into the depths of my restless mind and perfectly express in writing what I can hardly make sense of myself?! You are a gift to the world and I so love that you are in my life. Thank you so the post and the poem…you gave me a glimmer of clarity today.


  4. Hi, Ali!

    I so appreciate your reflection received here in the early morning hours. I posted a more in depth response, but my email address rejected, so I don’t know you will receive it. Know I treasure your gifts!

    Thanksgiving blessings to you, Tim, and the family, Bev

    Sent from my iPad



  5. Ali, once again you put into print what my overwhelmed brain has been trying to process. I have been struggling with the discipline of self care. I have resisted taking the time to meditate and journal and could not figure out why. You shined the light; it’s the numbing effect of “tasking”. I am always relieved to know I am not alone. You are truly a gift. Thank you my friend.


  6. Ali, once again you have it seems like you and I have traveling on the same wavelength. This back and forth brain chatter really does cause us so much “guilt” that we are not doing the many chores that we put on our To Do list on a daily basis. Thankfully I am also moving more frequently in the direction of self care through meditation, reading, walking, and just being in the moment.

    Thank you my dear friend!


  7. beautiful Ali! Love the picture by Finn. Really love it. He is such a unique artist! Love the poem as well. I feel that same, and it is a good reminder to pray often. Peace, Lynne Kemp


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