Base Metal into Gold

Only when a man dies does he discover the mystery of life.
--Nigerian Saying

I was working out at a fitness center one afternoon long ago, and the Oprah Winfrey show was playing on a TV mounted on the wall.  Oprah was hosting a segment on affirmative prayer.  Viewers were advised to select five problem areas in their lives and to transform them through the power of positive prayer.  I thought I’d give it a try.  The next morning I woke up early and selected five problem areas and began praying.  I knew it was all too easy to get locked into negative thinking about your circumstances and to overlook opportunities for personal growth.  

That night I had a disturbing dream.  Five people were assembled in a graveyard.  All had sold their souls to the devil and had agreed to surrender their lives after one year.  Now their time was up.  At the witching hour, one of the five began to scream loud enough to awaken the dead -- or rather, to waken a person who had been buried there by mistake.  The one who screamed (perhaps it was me) helped to dig up the person who had been buried alive. 

I woke up myself and realized the dream was about my affirmative prayers.  In a sense, each prayer was a bargain with the devil, which is how we treat God when we attempt to bargain with him through prayer.  We become fearful about some circumstance in our life.  We may feel trapped or powerless, so we pray that God will intervene to improve our situation.  In the process we demonstrate little more than our lack of faith, succumbing to the illusion that we exist apart from God and apart from our own circumstances. 

In time I came to see the utter futility of all striving.  Once we learn to let go of all our hopes, fears and ambitions, we are better able to see the clear, bright reality of life as it unfolds from moment to moment.  Right now is really all that we have and all we will ever have.  When we see that we have no future, there is no longer any reason to be afraid of what the future might bring.  There is really nothing left to be done, other than to pay attention to the life we have been given and to be thankful.  We might  even learn to accept ourselves for who we are, warts and all. 

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