Archive for September 2014

“Prayer cannot bring water to parched fields, or mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a ruined city; but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart and rebuild a weakened will.”

For some reason, this quote from the Reform prayer book has stuck with me. It keeps coming back into my thoughts. And when your wandering mind keeps circling back to an idea, that idea matters.

I pray every night, sometimes silently and sometimes out loud, in that safe space of solitude just before falling asleep. It’s a very different feeling than praying amongst a community – I can’t say if it’s easier or harder to concentrate, but for me it feels more intensive.

Sometimes it’s a powerful experience. I’m pouring out my soul, asking for whatever I want to happen. Sometimes it’s something as simple as wishing to have a good, productive day, free from anxiety and self-doubt.

Then sometimes it feels like I’m just talking into thin air. Talking to nothing, letting out words that no one will ever hear. The cynic in me, like the wicked child at the Passover seder, just asks “Why? Why bother?”

Maybe it’s because of the disheartening news of all that’s going on in the world lately. Too much evil, too much suffering and fear, too much destruction. Ferguson. Hamas. ISIS. If simply praying for peace was enough to stop or prevent suffering, then none of this would have ever happened. (I’m not about to come up with some divine explanation why very bad things happen, because honestly that makes me uncomfortable and it’s a topic for another post.)

So which is it? What can praying actually do? Can it accomplish anything?

Maybe that question is the wrong way to approach it. I believe prayer is a mode of introspection, and it is in those moments of uninterrupted introspection that we lay out a spiritual road map and decide what we want our lives to be. It is then that we begin to build a self.

Maybe it’s the act done with intention that matters more than the outcome.

Maybe it’s the process of watering an arid soul, mending a broken heart, and rebuilding a weakened will that allows us to learn, grow, and reach out to improve the world around us.

Prayer alone isn’t enough. But it’s a good place to start.


First of all, you can do it.

The school let you in for a reason. Now make us proud and bring them to their knees.

Campus will become your home.

Soon enough you’ll have your favorite professor, your favorite dining hall employee who knows your name, and more.

Bond with your floor-mates. Your freshman floor will be a great first group of friends, a nice support system.

You will meet friends in unexpected times and places.
So go to all the mixers and join the clubs where you’ll find like-minded people.
And pay attention to those people who smile when you pass them on the quad.
Anyone you meet is a potential friend.

If you don’t feel like calling home, call anyway.
It will make Mom and Dad very happy.
They’ll always find something to worry about. All because they love you.
Realize that all their advice will make sense one day. Soon.

Keep track of your requirements and try to fulfill them early.
But also take those life-changing classes you never thought you’d take.

Realize you are not an adult yet.
And you don’t have to be.
College is just the next stage.
And when you go home, you’ll see us all again and feel like nothing ever changed.

Be strong if anything doesn’t go as planned.
And know that you can learn something from every experience.
Every class, every conversation, every experience.
Keep learning.
And keep moving forward.