A Magazine Capturing the Story of Health- For People, Environment, Economy & Habitat

The Intangible Value of Sustainable Prayer

By Lavinia Gene Weissman

Moving Beyond Today’s Spiritual Vacuum


New York, New York

This past week, I have been exceptionally frustrated. My frustration grew out of  an observation that many of the men and women, I know, have become unconsciously resigned as a result of the today’s economic challenge or the do not break from the mechanical nature of doing more of the same – looking for a job or living simply in response to stress, to find a point of transformation to shift local economies and learn new approaches to problems they share with their friends that can impact the health of the economy, people, environment and habitat to measure lasting social impact for the welfare of all.

Author, JK Rowling has taught us so many times, in how she lives and has lived her life while imagining every Harry Potter chapter, success grows from failure and recovery from failure grows from imagination.   Her learning took form from her own journey as the daughter of a chronically ill mother, who became an abused wife.  Freedom from abuse took her with her imagination through the journey of an impoverished single mom, living on services with her daughter to becoming a teacher, and then magic beyond words shaped her life today growing out of her rich inner childhood imagination that birthed Harry Potter and friends.

I see many woman using spiritual practices of being positive and expressing and claiming gratitude as a way to accept a diminished life and circumstance for which they are unable to abound.  I have organized a prayer group for numerous of my acquaintances called Monday Circle of Prayer. Many members of this group have very compromised life experiences due to illness, single parenting, job loss, declined sources of income, care-giving sick family members and more.

Each week, I offer a prayer to these women through a private group on Facebook, called Monday Circle of Prayer.   It is my way to inspire myself by inspiring others by building a new view of who we are and what we represent.  It’s about creating a faith practice that inspires hope for those of us who carry a burden that the socio-economic authorities have served to us a cloud of resignation that has translated into a life challenged by poverty, poor health and economic strife. For me I have survived by finding the faith to persist at my own life and work in these difficult times and find a new path that improves their capacity to sustain themselves.

I curate this group and invite conversation and contribution. I archive the prayers in a protected group on Facebook, so as to assure privacy.  I have introduced some of the women to each other and some have begun to talk by phone to each other about problems they may share in common, perhaps to seek a new view.

Last week the conversations with a number of these women fueled my frustration to see how to easily they are using their spiritual practice to fuel a form of resignation and not work to alter their life, but to use the positive ways and expressions of gratitude almost like a form of accepting this diminished form of life.

This group has helped to alleviate isolation many feel when living in poverty or challenged.  The group has not yet found the courage or imagination to author a new view that is fueled by all its members and not driven by me.  All I can do at this time is author a reflective prayer each week or an link or two of inspiration.

There is a change in this country over the past six months, since the stand by Occupy Wall Street. A much greater number of people have moved the pervasive denial that pushes so many to do more of the same and not recognize the need for change that the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown implied.

As part of my own grappling about the lack of understanding in our economy of what is implied to care about the welfare of others, I decided to read Hillary Clinton’s autobiography, Living History, written in 2003

Reading this bio has prompted me to rethink what it means to embrace your own personal power.  I continue to believe that power is inside every potential leader at birth and if prompted in by family, educators and friends, it can mushroom into something remarkable over time that has nothing to do with position or authority.

Embedded in Hillary’s life story is this kind of pattern.  Yet while reading the book, I had to ask myself how does she lift herself beyond failure and difficult times, which for Hillary like many woman in my prayer gropu have been numerous, brutal and life altering.

Hillary discovered the power of intangible prayer during her first month as First Lady.  This was to carry her through her first 6 months as First Lady of the United States, which were filled with loss, disappointments, failures and infringement of her family’s privacy.

By the end of six months, the task force she chaired for health care reform failed. She experienced numerous significant deaths of her father, mother-in-law and her close friend and law partner committed suicide as a result of clinical depression.  The Clinton living quarters had been searched with out notice.

In April of that year, Hillary was invited to make a speech at the University of Texas as her father lay at death’s door. On the plane to Austin, she found an article authored by Lee Atwater, Age 40, political adviser to Presidents Reagan and Geroge H.W. Bush, who was dying of cancer. Hillary embedded this passage from the article in the speech she gave in April 1993 at University of Texas, Austin.

Atwater wrote,

“Long before I was struck by cancer, I felt something striring in American society; it was a sense among the people of the country— Republicans and Democrats alike—-that something was missing from their lies, something crucial… I wasn’t exactly sure what the “it” was.  My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what is missing in me:  a little heart, a lot of brotherhood.

The 80’s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth and, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends?  It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with the truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught you in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime….

I drew on different sources to put together a statement about the need to “remodeled society by redefining what it means to be a human being in the twentieth century, moving into a new millennium.

We need a new politics of meaning. We need a new ethos of individual responsibility and caring. We need a new definition of civil society which answers the unanswerable questions posed by both the market forces and the governmental ones, as to how we can have a society that fills us up again and makes us feel that we are poart of something bitter than ourselves.”

Who will lead us out of this “spiritual vacuum?”

After reading Lee Atwater’s perspective, Hillary answered Atwater’s  question for her audience, stating, “The answer is all of us.”

The answer remains unchanged today from 1993.   But shifting our behavior as a country from the individual, political, business and citizen perspective has to integrate an understanding of what is implied by the word, “welfare.”

This requires a new understanding and view, voice this past September by Jan M. Morgan, President of CSRwire, LLC.  Jan offered this statement in a publication,  GLOBAL COMPACT COMMUNICATION ON PROGRESS, September 2011, prepared for the United Nations Global Compact:



I am terribly ambitious where the world is concerned and feel a personal responsibility to contribute to the welfare of all. I try to take responsibility for my own actions and I believe the work we do at CSRwire benefits society and communities all over the world.”

Whether a commercial enterprise, a government activity or a non-profit initiative, it has always been my belief that within those institutions that people can take the kind of responsibility that Jan Morgan describes can be done by anyone by   investing time, energy, thought and funds to measure a return on investment of lasing social impact.

We can no longer afford to think of “welfare” in the context of charity or government services that only serve to diminish people and obstruct their capacity to sustain personally and empower their children to do the same by redefining the idea of, “No Child Left Behind,” to mean educate, inspire, mentor and encourage intelligence and health.

As of late, my own belief and values in this regard have been challenged and I have been trying to find my way out of my own spiritual vacuum from a very reminder personally of what it is life for anyone when difficult times are imposed on you  that you could not counteract or protect yourself from.

Since last June, a few event in my life have had me reach out to numerous friends, leave behind some old friends and make some new friends.

My outreach has been primarily to women, who are also experiencing challenge.  Before the 2008 financial meltdown, I usually knew 1 or 2 women challenged by illness, lost job, challenging social circumstance. But in my life at this time, I now know over 14 women experiencing a combination of challenges and the size of the group continues to grow rather than decline.

In Living History, Hillary describes her introduction to the National Prayer Center, founded by Ken Wilde. This non-profit invites participation of people of all backgrounds and political representation to offer the gift of service to others in need. After Hillary’s first month as First Lady, she was was presented with a book of messages, quotes and scriptures give to her to sustain her tenure by members of the National Prayer Association. Hillary joined with a prayer partner to pray for her as she prayed for others.

The National Prayer Center, located in the Beltway of Washington DC, reached out beyond the Washington divide to anyone in need of support by providing gifts that are intangible and so meaningful – discernment, peace, compassion, faith, fellowship, vision, forgiveness, grace, wisdom, love, joy and courage.

Prior to Thanksgiving, when my own situation of challenge escalated, I only had prayer left and then I realized as I talk to more of and more of my friends, prayer was all that many of us had left.

While at the present time, I do not have many answers or ability to impact concrete measurable change that assures intelligent hard working women jobs or single mom’s the ability to care for their family or cures for children suffering from chronic illness and disabilities that overtake the day of a family trying to care for itself in these stressful times.

I know the unity and benefit of what can serve from prayer. Whether you believe in G-d or not, I know combining higher thought and sparking a direction of goodness that can impact a societal change that assures the health of people, environment, economy and habitat is something we need now.

You are all welcome to contact me at, if you have interest to join a group of people in prayer in this way or join our virtual group, Monday Circle of Prayer and support it with a modest donation or simply as a sponsor.

Recommended donation is

$15+ individual

$30+ two income household

$100+ non profit sponsor

$100+  entrepreneur sponsor

$250-500+ corporate sponsor.

Donations are confidential and any contributions that exceed recommended amounts are used to offer access to people living in poverty or without income.  These donations support my work and writing and this community of practice associated with The Story of Meaningful Use Magazine and companion page on Facebook.

As I return to reflecting on the progress that so many have fostered, globally in #csr, #socent, #sustainability and #health communities of men and women, who are not resigned and have formed this tipping point of change to accelerate and translate practices through out the world, I am reminded each other them also works each day like me to grow beyond the difficulties that impose personal challenges to each of us. Prayer is the foundation by which we can each inspire ourselves and others to do our best to just continue to do our work for the greater good and the welfare of all. Prayer can open our channels to discover new ways to talk and work with other people.

Prayer is an intangible when offered in the presence of others as witness and partners, can inspire a change we could not see during times of great uncertainty, like how we are living now.


Author’s Bio:

Lavinia Weissman is sustainable leadership coach, health advocate, capacity builder, and publisher/editor-in-chief of



  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

Caryn, thanks or the remarks.

#tsomu (hashtag for The Story of Meaningful Use, invites members of the hospital and health care social media communities to submit stories that reflect change and programs that serve health from the perspective of mind, body and spirit)

This comment will be posted in relevant groups in

And we welcome remarks from our international audience on approaches from other countries and the US.

  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

I am very surprised and moved by the distribution of this article on the web today and how many people are reading it. The readership is international and I have heard from Bologna Italy as a result.

Thank you all. My intent is to move beyond the limited task driven information exchange about health and more in the US and to build a real time advisory board directing the publishing and editorial direction for this publication in forms that offer imagination and break the barriers of more of the same of the conversation that values the idea of “lack”.

  Jan Morgan wrote @

Thanks for the mention Lavinia – I am “terribly ambitious where the world is concerned”. I first heard this spoken by Sri Eknath Easwaran almost 20 years ago:

He taught me passage based meditation and gives us many practical suggestions from his own experience.

  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

Jan, we need many more terribly ambitious people like you and me in the world. For the past 2 days, I have been reading some of the best in CSR and Leadership writing from our network by @ArtKleiner, @elainecohen, @aroncramer and @ellenweinreb. We cracked the ice for the tipping point, but it is time for a new spiritual understanding of what that implies so we can accelerate our work and planet balancing spirit with science and technology.

This weeks upcoming prayer is “leaving the battlefield,”. Available to the privately curated community on Facebook, Monday Circle of Prayer.

This is a prayer group and our ritual includes respect for privacy and personal retrospection that serves with trust and safety.

  Chellie wrote @

Powerful. Thank you for sharing!

  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

Chellie, wonderful to meet you here. I think you might also enjoy my article on funding education to leave no child behind that published yesterday. No Child Left Behind, Can Business Step In? As a professional capacity builder, I want to support organizations e.g. to obtain community and business philanthropy for their work by defining new metrics that measure lasting social impact..

  Austin Livingston wrote @

How many of have experienced, as Lavinia writes, ” . . .compromised life experiences” marked by illness, job loss or loss of a loved one, divorce , or something as subtle as a feeling of despair and diminished hope? I know I have seen the effects in the lives of my friends and family and my own life. In the text written by Lavinia she poses a very key question. So just how do we lift ourselves from failure and difficult times? I see the answer is the same as it was over 2,000 years ago. Prayer! Just as young David and King David did. As young Solomon and King Solomon did. Fall to their knees, not in defeat, but rather to open their hearts and mind to a new way of thinking and direction designed by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. I believe Pray is the one thing that breaks through all cultural, economic and ethnic barriers. Collectively our prayers have power to change our world. Challenges and disparities become common focuses for all. Then we see through our hearts and not our eyes. . . It really does take all of us. Are we not our Brother’s keeper?

  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

Austin, you said a mouthful here, subject to interpretation. It would be fascinating for me to learn how you see pray breaks through the cultural, economic and ethnic barriers with so much of a challenge in the public space about religion and religious institutions? Do you find prayer as an individual private is more reflective and evokes a self-examination that helps people find their way to change?

  Janet M Morgan wrote @

For Lavinia and Austin:

I find daily passage based meditation my prayer. I was taught to meditate using spiritual passages by Sri Eknath Easwaran some 30 years ago. Here is a description from the website “In passage meditation, we choose a spiritual text, or passage, that embodies our highest ideals, memorize it, and then go through the words slowly, silently, and with as much concentration as possible. This method brings two important benefits.
First, by training our mind to stay on the words of the passage, we gradually build the precious capacity to place our attention wherever we choose – the key, as Easwaran would say, to love and loyalty as well as genius. Second, we begin to resemble and actually become whatever we give our attention to. As the inspired words from the great spiritual traditions of the world slowly come to life in us, they bring with them quiet joy, the capacity to face challenges squarely, and a deep sense of fulfillment.”

I have found this method sound and in every way positive – the method recommends meditation as one of 8 keys to incorporate into your life.

Meditating using inspired words from spiritual passages changes us from the inside out – to quote Easwaran directly:

“The method of meditation presented here can be followed equally well in any religion or in none. I think that is the real secret of its appeal. It belongs to no movement, asks for no change of beliefs: it simply allows you to take the ideals you respond to and gradually, gracefully, make them part of your character and your life.”

Warm wishes, Jan Morgan
President, CSRwire

  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

@jan_morgan – this particular part of the quote and teaching really moved me, in particular:

“Second, we begin to resemble and actually become whatever we give our attention to. As the inspired words from the great spiritual traditions of the world slowly come to life in us, they bring with them quiet joy, the capacity to face challenges squarely, and a deep sense of fulfillment.”

I have not had a teaching like this one in all my years of meditation.

It moved me in thinking about the condition by which so many left the World Economic Forum this weekend, very challenged to really engage with finding solutions to the changes to eradicate poverty, address the global credit crisis and begin to author real time solutions to the social ecology that surrounds sustainability.

The teaching you shared offers a window of light for all people to be leaders in creating and being part of a what of a new ecology that can serve all, who live and work in a living system that inspires working wisely to live well.

@austinlivingston, I know you are thinking about this as you create models of affordable housing that can be a framework from which this ecology can emerge.

  Pozycjonowanie wrote @

You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  thestoryofmeaningfuluse wrote @

@pozycjonowanie thank you for your thoughts. My writing is how I live the practice that @jan_morgan wrote here,

““The method of meditation presented here can be followed equally well in any religion or in none. I think that is the real secret of its appeal. It belongs to no movement, asks for no change of beliefs: it simply allows you to take the ideals you respond to and gradually, gracefully, make them part of your character and your life.”

to me it is as simple as being “to thine own self be true.”

Deepak Chopra describes this as the reality of what it means to surrender by

. full attention
. appreciation of life’s richness
. opening yourself to what is in front you
, non-judgement
. absence of ego
. humility
. being receptive to all possibilities
. allowing love.

(from Chopra’s Book of Secrets, 2004)

  Oda Fernstaedt wrote @

You can certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  Catalina Lease wrote @

I think this is one of the most significant info for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The website style is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

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