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Thoughts in, thoughts out, thoughts remembered, thoughts forgotten. Monkey mind at the best of times. Why do we even say ‘you are in our thoughts’?    

By Laurel Pattenden

This article is for all of us who overthink. For those talented people who can knit knots in their heads without even trying.

We are delightful souls in our own way, but we can create a dust storm in a dustless mind. Praying those never-ending prayers in fear that we leave someone or something out. Then returning to edit them. This month of January is a good time for over thinkers to set a new way of thinking and/or a new way to pray.

Helping our over-thought thoughts and prayers to not spoil our thoughts and prayers. If you are a knitter of mind knots you will understand that. Please, just don’t over think it! My tale of overthinking begins.

Just like thousands of families before us, our family became intimate with Covid-19. The rules were all followed. Once the fevers set in, loss of taste and smell, body aches and tiredness occurred, I wondered what I could do thousands of miles away from our loved ones who were sick. The first to catch the virus was a child under five. Within twenty-four hours an adult also succumbed to the various symptoms. Immediately I sent out an email prayer request to friends with an explanation of the situation.

This turned out to be very interesting for an overthinker, as the replies arrived. Few of them replied with the word ‘prayer’ but the word ‘thought’ dominated the replies.

Being the grandmother of a grandchild under five and mother-in-law to his mother, both with Covid, I was perhaps a little more anxious, judgmental, narrow minded, dissecting and critical of the replies. Overthinking at it’s very best. Sorry, it just happens to me sometimes.

My thought bubbles could be read: “Why are they just sending us their thoughts! I want prayers! Can’t they just sit down for twenty-five seconds, take a deep breath, exhale and say a prayer using the names of the sick?” I don’t know about you, but my thoughts tend to come and go with the speed of light. Thoughts in, thoughts out, thoughts remembered, thoughts forgotten. Monkey mind at the best of times. Why do we even say ‘you are in our thoughts’? Can you possibly find exactly where that ‘thought’ is in your thoughts?  

Most of the time we live in a whirlwind of thoughts blowing around in our heads. What is a thought anyways? Merriam-Webster dictionary writes: it is an idea, plan, opinion, picture etc. Another definition writes a thought is the action or process of thinking. That is a bit too circular for me and if you ‘think’ deeply about it I am sure it would create mental motion sickness!

This was the first time I have sent out an email prayer request to so many people. Truthfully, I had no idea of what to expect. Is the word ‘thought’ the new, acceptable word for ‘prayer’? Is the word prayer too personal? Our Merriam-Webster source gives us a very general definition of prayer with two parts. Prayer is a direct address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought plus an earnest request or wish.

Hmmmmm.   The prayer definition had the word ‘thought’ in it. Oh dear, does this mean prayer can be a thought? I am not totally sure at this moment, but I am sure that I have a dull headache coming on.

Maybe Mary F. Smith, a Quaker and later Scottish Episcopalian, who wrote: "Prayer is an exercise of the spirit, as thought is of the mind", can help clear up my thoughts on thought and prayer. Well, perhaps not as much as I would like. So, does the spirit not have thought? Or does the thought of prayer in the mind not affect the spirit? And on and on.

“Stop” I think. “Stop” I pray. Take a deep breath. Exhale.

Looking back on the replies to my plea for prayer, I understand that the word “thought” and “prayer” does not matter at all. What matters is what gave rise to the individual responses. My cry out for prayers touched my friends. Their minds were touched. Their spirits were touched. They responded. They ALL responded! 100%. Promptly! I want to thank them for all their thoughts and prayers, which is love after all! By the way, those in our family who had Covid have fully recovered.

Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio.