If you’ve ever read Portia Nelson’s poem, “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters,” you see how she takes you from falling in the crack in the sidewalk and it’s being her fault to the 4th chapter when she progresses from falling into the crack to walking around the crack. Finally, in the 5th chapter, she decides to walk down a different street altogether.
For myself, after a life of blaming others for what happened to me, I decided to walk down another street – the street of taking responsibility, being accountable, not being a victim any longer, and being the “actor” of my actions. It’s made a big difference in my life.
In another venue, that of teaching, I find myself getting frustrated with my learners not understanding the particular math lesson I’m trying to present. Rather than feeding the frustration for both my learner and myself, I’m learning to try different strategies, different examples, different approaches – I walk down another street.
And still in another scene – I like to do puzzles of different kinds. I used to give up easily and walk away from and throw them away when I didn’t reach successful solutions. So now I’ve learned to endure the productive struggle, while looking for other ways to solve the puzzles, putting them aside to work on at a different time, place, etc. I get better results. I walk down a different street.
All of these experiences as varied as they are have taught me how to approach God in prayer.
My early formation in doing this even before I entered religious life was based on childish images of God – the old man with a beard, a judge, and so on. And that didn’t work for me!
As I became more experienced and dissatisfied with the status quo, God revealed God’s self in different ways, with different people, at different times. I discovered other forms and possibilities for prayer, other suggestions from retreats, reading the “masters,” and listening to other pray-ers on the journey.” I have a new image and a new experience of God. Now I walk down another street.
I just try to be present to Presence.
It serves me well. I have grown in my relationship with God and others. I pray on different streets.