Prayer is dangerous. If you ask God to help you see other people in your pathway as His beloved children, instead of as inconveniences or annoyances or instead of only seeing how they relate to you (for better or worse), then He may just do that for you. And things could get weird. They have for me.
I was in a chain hotel last week. And since it was by far the cleanest, nicest of three cheap-ish chain hotels of the week, I was delighting in its relative sterility. No sign of prior occupants. Perhaps you (like me) like the illusion that you are the only person who has ever slept in a particular hotel room. Maybe (like me) you don’t want “too much information” about the prior occupants of room 416 in the Hampton Inn in Generica America. You just want to close the door, not hear the TV in the next room, live in your cocoon for the night and get outta there without too much drama or too many germs.
Yet on this particular night as I was reflecting on how nice and clean my space was, my eyes fell on a lone, stray hair on the edge of the tub. It was very long and dark (i.e. not mine; I have short, grey hair). And I wondered who it belonged to. And then I spontaneously prayed for that person, for their journey as it had continued beyond the Hampton Inn, for wherever they now were, whatever they were now doing, for God’s love for this person to be known, for me to remember the interconnectedness of all people. I thought of Richard Rohr’s phrase (and book title) “Everything Belongs.”
And I couldn’t imagine anymore that I was the only person who’d ever slept in Room 416. Or that I mattered more than the others. Or that God wasn’t answering my prayers to be more aware of the other, to learn (from Him) how to love others.
Maybe it starts with praying for pieces of hair. And that’s weird. Did anyone ever say that the life of faith would be bland?