What is happening when you’re on your knees and right before you stand up?  Is someone you can’t see listening?  Does that someone send thoughts and feelings to you? Are those thoughts and feelings constructive communication?

Important questions, to be sure.  If someone’s listening, and that someone knows way more than you, and that someone can send information through the ether of time and space, well, who wouldn’t want to communicate with that special someone?

Many very reasonably say there is no such someone.  Your thoughts are your thoughts, your feelings are your feelings, your answers are the products of your mind alone.  If they’re right, it doesn’t render meditation and prayer meaningless, but it does reduce it to self-reflection, and all ideas, conclusions, impulses and forecasts are the result of processes going on inside your own mind.

I have, at times, been terrorized by the thought that there is no special someone listening and helping.  At other times, and counter-intuitively, I have found relief in the idea that we just might be alone and no one is out there.  I have had thoughts and feelings, though quite clear, predictive, creative and useful, were also mine and mine alone.

But at many other times, certain thoughts and feelings were most definitely not from my mind alone.  These thoughts include specific predictions, impulses on what decision to make, impulses on what is dangerous and wrong.  These thoughts include desires to do something good, kind, nice, or generous.  I have also, at times, felt certain spirits were in the room, looking over me.  I have felt comfort from above and from these spirits.  I have felt, or known, if you will, when someone is dangerous, or lying, or manipulative.

I cannot explain exactly why I think I can distinguish what is and what isn’t communication from that special someone.  And I don’t bat a 1.000.  But over time, I do think I get better at telling what is from me and what is coming from beyond me.

One particular time comes to mind. I was in graduate school. I was not living my life the way I wanted to live it.  I wanted to change and in order to do so, I thought I needed to move to a new city, and get a certain job for which I didn’t have adequate qualifications.  I paid for myself to fly to the interviews, hopeful that I could pull something off.  But, I botched them badly and performed poorly.

That night, I prayed for the first time in a couple of years.  I didn’t think that special someone would be listening to my prayer, and if so, I didn’t think that special someone would take pity on me, and help me.  But I sure hoped someone up there would.  Then, suddenly, inexplicably, I felt a force, both physical and spiritual, rush through me.  It almost knocked me over.  I jumped up and looked around.  It shocked me.  It didn’t scare me, but it did most definitely surprise me.  It didn’t stay long even though I wanted it to come back.  But it didn’t come back.  I had prayed about other things earlier in my life.  I had prayed about the Book of Mormon. I had prayed about church.  I had been on a mission.  I had prayed for certain results.  But I had never before experienced anything remotely like what I experienced that evening, while on my knees.  I arose from that prayer oddly encouraged and optimistic.  It was going to work out. I flew back home, to my apartment, knowing I would get the job that I was not qualified for, in spite of the botched interviews.  I knew that somehow I was going to be given this chance to move to this new city, to get a fresh start.  I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t earn it.  But it happened anyway and my life’s trajectory changed.

I have to say that it was a pretty darn nice thing that that special someone from beyond the ether of time and space did for me.  It was so generous and kind. I’m a lot happier now than I was at the time.  Not because of that job. Or the new city.  Those things happened a long time ago.  But, because it started me moving towards becoming a different person.  Now, I am a different person.  I’m more like the person I wanted to be.  I’m better than I was before.  I’m really grateful that anybody out there even gives a darn about me, much less that special someone.  I think that special someone cares about all of us.  I’m not the only person who thinks this way.  I’m not the only person that special someone has communicated with.  I think if we try to listen we can learn how to hear.  It comes more easily to some than others at first, but, in the end, we can all become equally good listeners.  I think so, anyway.  Life’s better for me when I’m trying to listen.  Way better. And I’m grateful of it.

SeeingEyeDog

Jack Naneek is a free lance artist based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He writes, makes movies and videos, reads, and listens, a lot. But really, he just likes to draw and think. He’s a lifelong member of the church.

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