Ask, Ask, Ask

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
--Matthew 7:7

when was the last time you felt comfortable asking anybody for anything - for advice, for help, or even for directions? I've spent the last twenty years asking questions as a journalist so you'd think that asking on my own behalf would come easy.

It doesn't. Nevertheless, I've recently discovered something that's brought a sense of adventure to my daily round. It's so simple, it's scary.

It's asking for what we want. Help. Advice. Wisdom. Guidance. Information - especially information. Information is what led me to a delightful new coffee bar. As I write, I'm enjoying a delicious glass of iced café latté at an outdoor table, shaded by a bright red-and-white striped umbrella, surrounded by charming white pots of geraniums. Every few minutes I peek with pleasure into the shopping bag at my feet to look at my new summer linen separates. They pass the Simple Abundance test: they look great, feel wonderful, and were on sale. After clearing closets and drawers, I was down to one outfit I could wear on the street (you think I'm kidding?). But everything I saw at the stores was too expensive, didn't look or feel right. So for months I avoided buying. then I ran into a woman I know who possesses a sure sense of style. Her wardrobe is terrific, but she could pull off wearing a burlap sack with panache. When I've seen her in the past, I usually ended up sighing wistfully. This time I cut to the chase. Where does she shop? She graciously detailed not only the stores but the different fashion lines she prefers. then she recommended I visit one great shop soon; they were having a fabulous sale. Ask to get on their mailing list, she advised, because they'll let you in on unadvertised specials.

"It is a long time since I have asked heaven for anything, but still my arms will not come down," Spanish poet Antonio Porchia mused, giving voice to the profound paradox of asking. We want, we need, we desire, we yearn, but we don't ask. Still our arms stay up in the air. Longings cross our mind, but we don't really commit ourselves. We don't lay it on the line. We don't ask because we're afraid somebody will say "no." Who? It doesn't matter. It could be Spirit, our spouse, or our supervisor. But when wishful thinking doesn't magically manifest what we want, we feel we've been denied. So, in future, we choose not to ask, but continue to wish, existing in a constant state of deprivation.

Asking comes with no guarantees. "I ask for things that do not come. I urge you for things that do not happen," writer Marjorie Holmes confides in her wonderful book of prayers, I've Got to Talk to Somebody, God. "Though my knuckles are bloody from knocking, and my voice is hoarse from asking," she writes, the door remains fast and there is only the Great Silence. In the Great Silence of unfulfillment all that you can hear are your own sobs. I know. But I also know if we don't ask, we haven't got a prayer.

Today, start asking. You see a woman with a great haircut? Ask where she got it. Ask for the name of a great paint color in a home accessory shop, a fabulous recipe from a hostess, the name of a piece of music you hear playing in the record store. Ask you husband to take the kids for the afternoon to give you some time to yourself. Ask the kids to pick up their toys so that you don't have to do it. Ask for a deadline extension. Ask for the day off. Ask for a raise. Ask when the next sale will be. Ask Spirit for a daily portion of grace. Ask Divine Wisdom for operating instructions. Ask you guardian angel to manifest holy assistance. While you're at it, ask for a miracle.

Ask for what you need and want. Ask to be taught the right questions. Ask to be answered. Ask for the Divine Plan of your life to unfold through joy. Ask politely. Ask with passion. Ask with a grateful heart and you will be heard.

Just ask

-Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy © 1995

Somehow, we seem to know the things that I quote from Sarah and Melody here, know them by heart, or by simple good common sense... Why is it, then, so hard to put the knowing of these things into the doing of practice? It is important that we take good care of ourself. We often think that we are doing a pretty good job of it, until we find that we are worn out and ready for a break, that we haven't done as good a job as we thought, and now something just has to give.

That is where I found myself at the time this page was supposed to be posted. As a result I took a 4-day weekend to rest, refresh and recuperate in the woods of the Washington Cascades. It was Mom and Dad's birthdays during the week, and their loss from my life was weighing heavy. The kids with their problems on my mind, projects due next week.. everything had piled up, and I needed a time out.

Please forgive me, but I so enjoyed it, and may do it again soon. All I had to do was to ask. Amazing! Now, back to work and to real life.



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