By Joyce Rupp
Editor’s note: Though this post is written from a Christian perspective, the Whoosh Prayer might be used by anyone, anywhere — no matter their spiritual tradition or even if they have no tradition. We are grateful to Joyce Rupp for giving SDI permission to share her reflection here. The stories she tells – of little Jacob and her friend – both illustrate the widely felt truth that all humans are connected in deep and mysterious ways.
Whether people live near or far away, we can be intentional about our love going forth to them because love is a movement of positive energy. My cousin decided to have her children pray this way for their evening prayer. They placed their hands over their hearts and remembered love dwelling within them. They then named those they pray for each evening. What a surprise when six year old Jacob flung his hands outward from his heart and said “whoosh!” as each person was named. (Children “get” what we adults can spend way too much time trying to prove or rationalize. Jacob understood. He sensed the love in his beautiful young heart could travel far and wide. So he whooshed it forth.)
Jacob’s “whoosh prayer” seems especially appropriate during this Eastertime. The appearances of the Risen Christ may be likened to a “whoosh-ing” presence. Love suddenly showed up, in ways the disciples never dreamt possible. They “knew” their Beloved was with them, not in the previous physical form, but in a way that touched their hearts and assured them of his nearness. These ‘whoosh times” also happen for us, like the wondrous event a friend experienced several weeks ago. With her permission, here is what she wrote:
“When I found myself with a bit of extra time before an appointment, I intended to go to a bookstore but felt this strong pull to enter a gift store instead. I hadn’t been there in a long time and thought I might find something meaningful to bring peace and warmth to my dad, and those of us who pained over his recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. As I walked inside, I knew I couldn’t say what I was looking for without crying, so I just wandered. I came to the back of the store and froze. I saw a big chalkboard wall with people’s names on it. A huge heart was next to my dad’s name. I started to cry silently as I continued shopping. It made me think of Dad, although I was sure the name wasn’t about him.
The owners came over to see if I had questions, saw me crying, and instantly offered their comfort. I asked what the wall meant and they said It’s a prayer wall. I asked if the name like my dad’s was a new addition. They said “yes.” I cried even more and told them, “That’s my dad’s name.” They asked my last name and started tearing up because it WAS for my Dad. The one lady said she worked with him as a volunteer raising funds for a low income school. Unbeknownst to me, they had all been praying for him. They then told me that before they open the store each day, they say a prayer that God sends them someone who just needs to be there for some reason. I truly believe I was their person today.”
Surely this is a modern resurrection story: my friend felt drawn toward the place where she was to experience the Presence of Love. As the authors of The Last Week state: “The risen Jesus journeys with us, whether we know it or not. There are moments in which we do come to know and recognize him….(the story of ) Emmaus happens again and again.
And so, I encourage each of us to continue to “whoosh” the love within our heart to others, and to be alert as to how this love may come whooshing into our lives through unexpected and amazing revelations.
P.S. The reader may recognize the whoosh prayer has having some similarity to Metta meditation. 😊 I’ve been fond of Buddhism since 1994 when I studied at Naropa in Boulder. So much of its approach strengthens my Christian tenets.
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Joyce Rupp is a spiritual director well known for her work as a writer, international retreat leader, and conference speaker. She is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Praying Our Goodbyes, Open the Door, and Fragments of Your Ancient Name. Fly While You Still Have Wings is among her publications earning an award in the spirituality books category from the Catholic Press Association. Learn more here.