What’s the difference between praying for something and crossing your fingers? Is ‘going for the jackpot’ spiritually incorrect?
BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – With $100 I can buy a lottery ticket that could win me a car, a big house in the city or a lakeside mansion in cottage country. I can’t afford the ticket, but have been known to buy one anyway because I badly want a lakefront cottage.
How else will I get one except through luck or a miracle? Luck might make it happen, but would it be spiritually enlightening?
Entrepreneurs and religious types don’t believe in luck. The former would tell me to buckle down, work harder and build a more lucrative career. The latter would say that whatever cottage I do or do not end up with has more to do with what my intention is — does it lead to a higher spiritual purpose? That’s the difference between “sheer luck” and synchronicity.
Luck and material wealth
Luck suggests that whatever good or bad thing happens to a person is by accident or chance. And oh how we try to sway the outcome – through prayer, rabbits’ feet, frequent purchases of lottery tickets or cranking of slot machines.
Others are not content to hope for chance or divine intervention, but attempt to take the reins of their own destiny. An American entrepreneur who was born and raised in Canada once told me what she saw as the biggest difference between the two countries. She said Canadians tend to be “too easily contented,” and that Americans have a knack for achieving greater wealth “because they’re never happy.”
Sadly, ambition and games of chance don’t always bring good luck. When I pass the local Bingo hall I see teen moms and destitute grandmas, none wearing smiles. And while there are priceless benefits to prayer, luck isn’t one of them. A sports team that wins a championship might believe God was on their side, but what about the losing team that also said a prayer before the game?
How I learned luck the hard way
I learned about luck the hard way when my father, after brain surgery complications, was in a coma with no chance of recovery. As I prayed in the hospital chapel, “Please let him live,” I was suddenly struck by the unfairness of my request. In a place where no doubt there were children dying of leukemia and young mothers dying of breast cancer, who was I to believe that I or my dad deserved special treatment from God?
Here is the strangest part. I have felt the greatest peace – not joy, but peace – when surrounded by the worst “luck.”
In that same hospital where my father was dying, the intensive care unit waiting room was a place of sheer misery. My relatives and I and the relatives of other dying people were exhausted from many sleepless nights of worrying and sobbing. But when we heard that our loved one wouldn’t make it, the clenching stopped, and the misery turned into the strangest feeling of warmth. I know that we all felt it. At the worst time of my life, why did I feel so wrapped up in an invisible hug? It felt so good I didn’t want to leave.
The second place I experienced bad luck and serenity was a small art gallery, where the artists and most of the patrons were people with schizophrenia. I was there as a reporter. Compared to my own lot in life, theirs was tragic. Yet I swear, the artists who greeted me were the most at-peace people I have ever met. Their horrible, incurable mental illness had cost them their jobs and homes and alienated their families and friends, yet in this tiny chalet where they could paint and sculpt together they radiated something wonderful. Again, I didn’t want to leave.
Can people achieve serenity or even happiness without luck? Maybe it’s not what we have on the outside, but what we make of it inside. It is possible to lose everything – like mourners, schizophrenics, or Indian gurus who give up all worldly possessions and still find the “peace that passes understanding.” They have nothing yet they have peace. Cottage or no cottage, I’d like to get me some of that.
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