Monday, October 2, 2023

‘Gently Down This Dream”: Thoughts for navigating through bad times



These days, it seems, we're all in the same boat.

We have little patience, too many irritations, no time but an overabundance of tasks that need doing. We must be in four places at one time – before lunch some days. Add an illness, a loss, any kind of big upheaval and you start to wonder how you'll get through the minute after next. So let "Gently Down This Dream" by Hugh and Gayle Prather help you find a way to float a little easier through the bad times.

Collaborators in life and in writing, Hugh and Gayle Prather created books together: He wrote first, she went next and fixed what was wrong.

She had finished the manuscript on this book, "we laughed about the changes ... and assumed that we would continue doing this for years to come. Hugh died the next day."

How do you recover from something like that? Hugh Prather knew the secret.

Just because you are steering "your boat gently down the stream," he says, "doesn't mean you... control the scenery." What helps is to have peace, which "gives us a gentler attitude with which to deal with" problems. You can't positive think the "harsher aspects of life" away, but "if we seek the Divine," it eventually helps feel like "a river of peace."

Remember that you can do "almost anything" in a loving way and that blessing strangers silently, rather than getting annoyed at them, is an act of kindness. Don't force cheerfulness; it only causes inner conflict. Forget about controlling anyone; it will destroy "whatever peace you had." Learn to enjoy the years and wisdom you've accumulated. Leave behind the things that do not give you peace. Remember that a church is a building that "should merely point the way." Protect your peace and add it to as many situations as needed.

And finally, "walk in grandeur. Decide to be as large and whole and happy as you were created." And remember that you are loved.

Sounds a little new-agey? It is, but your degree of that perception will depend on the spiritual journey you seek or the situation you're trying to deal with. You may find it new-agey, but you might also feel that "Gently Down This Dream" is a Desiderada for today's reader.

The difference is in the attitude: this book is meant not for quick lessons, but for a total and ongoing lifelong metamorphosis from troubled you to tranquil you.

Indeed, authors Gayle Prather and the late Hugh Prather write with sympathy about living in society today, with weird strangers, traffic snarls, rude coworkers, and pets gone wild. There's humor in their words sometimes and constant, gentle reminders that backsliding is totally OK, that this is a process, not an instant demand.

That alone is instantly, powerfully comforting.

"Gently Down This Dream" may not change your 21st-Century life immediately, but it’s worth keeping around to help get you through one day at a time. Tuck it in your briefcase, your car, or your desk and give yourself some smoother sailing.

"Gently Down This Dream: Notes on My Sudden Departure" by Hugh & Gayle Prather

c.2023, New World Library. $17.95. 248 pages.


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