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Musings on Life as a Prayer Artist

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My son went to prison–and I learned to pray

The mystical practices of soul writing and Intention Mandala were birthed in trauma. As I began Soul Vows, there was no trauma in sight. Would I finally get to write a book without pain? 

Trauma, as you’ve probably discovered, can be a divine invitation. Not one you want, of course, but a divine invitation nonetheless. That’s certainly been the case for me. My first two books were triggered by divorce and bankruptcy. But as I began to write Soul Vows, there was no trauma in sight. I thought I was finally free of the “trauma begets mystical practice” pattern.

On a gorgeous spring morning in March 2013, I was sitting in my backyard in the Florida sun reading a new book. And in a split second, I awakened to the mystical truth of soul vows—a truth I had not perceived until that moment: when you speak your soul vows, you are not the only one speaking! I’ll tell that story in next Tuesday’s newsletter.

I was ecstatic to receive this divine transmission not only because it elevated soul vows from a spiritual to a mystical practice, but also because it came without pain or fear. This was new. And I liked it. I liked it a lot.

But it didn’t last long. 

Two months later, my son, Jerry, was sent to prison, and I entered a black hole that dwarfed anything I’d experienced before. I felt utterly helpless. In the divorce, I could yell and scream and beg for help in deep soul writing. I could yell and scream with my lawyer, too. I could go to therapy, cry on my sister’s shoulder, devour books on spiritual healing, and listen to Ron Roth and Caroline Myss on spiritual healing until the tapes broke. And I could pray like there was no tomorrow. 

But when a federal judge ordered my 24-year old son to prison to coerce him to cooperate with the government’s hunt for political activists, suddenly none of that worked. There was so little I could do.

  • I could write him a letter every day, even though he might not get them for weeks.
  • I could buy special prison-approved visitation clothes.
  • I could travel 5 times to New York to see him for one hour.
  • I could send prison emails, knowing guards read them.
  • I could buy books on Amazon, even though he didn’t always get them.
  • I could stay home for fear I’d miss a rare 15-minute phone call.

I did what I could, but it felt like so little. What I needed—what I really needed—was to be able to pray for him. And my prayers—even prayers that used to sustain me—fell lifeless to the floor. I was desperately in need of a living, breathing, holy prayer.

So I dragged myself to St Michael’s Shrine in Tarpon Springs. There, I poured out my heart and begged for help. Without thinking, I wrote, “How would a mystic pray for Jerry?” Out of my hand poured:

The Divine in me, through me, and as me

Blesses my precious son Jerry

Honors his soul’s divinely appointed mission

And showers him with grace.

I stared at the words on the page and whispered, oh my God, it’s perfect. This prayer does everything I love and everything “tell God what you want” prayers do not. I love that it opens acknowledging the divine is here, within me, and then it sends that internal divine love flowing out of me to do the three things that matter:

  1. Bless the person
  2. Honor his or her soul’s purpose (as opposed to what I want)
  3. Shares in the divine task of spreading grace

Really, what more could a prayer do!

I had just begun writing Soul Vows, so Jerry’s story went in the book. The Perfect Prayer went in the book. Later, the Ultimate Prayer (a nonverbal prayer from the Masters and Teachers of the Akashic Record) went in the book.

And finally, I followed my prayer trail where it was destined to lead me: I had to forgive the judge. And I had to forgive him while my son was in prison. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I had to do it. I had to do it for me and for my son. This radical story of forgiveness went in Soul Vows,too.

When I finished the manuscript, I realized I couldn’t separate the pain of Jerry’s sacrifice to protect our right to dissent from the birth of the mystical practice of soul vows. And so I dedicated Soul Vows to him. And wrote this in the Acknowledgments:

“I must begin with my teacher. Many authors write with gusto of the spiritual life, but I couldn’t find any articulating a practice quite like soul vows. Turns out I didn’t have to look very far. On May 21, 2013, a federal judge ordered my twenty-four-year-old son, Jerry, to prison to coerce him to answer questions about political activists in front of a secret grand jury. Jerry told me he would remain silent; to do otherwise would break his code of ethics. Jerry never stated that code, but as I watched how he treated everyone, even as he was bearing an unbearable load, his soul vows were clear: honor the dignity of all, engage in deep inquiry, live in solidarity, and seek justice for those who cannot seek it for themselves. I realized I could stop scrambling to find some big name authority to quote; my teacher was in front of me.

I received confirmation a week later through the extraordinary Akashic Record consultant, Lauralyn Bunn. As my records were opening, Lauralyn described the blinding white light of the Ascended Christ as he bowed, first to Jerry and then to me, in honor of two souls living their soul vows.”

So, in the end, I did experience a third trauma and it shattered my heart wide open to experience a depth of prayer I didn’t even know existed. 

The Perfect Prayer is so integral to Soul Vows, that I recorded a video so you could see the actual journal that went to Michael’s, see my son’s Altar of Freedom, and watch me pray the Perfect Prayer as I did every day for 253 days. Then, as I was ending the video, i turned to the camera and said the Perfect Prayer for YOU.
 

The Perfect Prayer VIDEO
 

If you missed the first two newsletters about Soul Vows, here they are:

Sophia and I are having babies

Am I the Mikey of the mystical life? (Are you?)


And here is Soul Vows herself!

Her birthday is April 1, but you don’t have to wait. You can preorder now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble or call your favorite bookstore so you have Soul Vows in your hands on her birthday.
 

Click here to order on Amazon

Click here to order on B&N
 

Why is there a swan on the cover? That’s a wild and wonderful mystical story if ever there was one. I’ll tell it in a special newsletter this Sunday.

To you, because your soul wants five things and one of them is to commit to values,

Janet