I was born in a mixed neighborhood of many different ethnic and religious backgrounds just before World War II and remember as a youngster, that every family had someone in the military service—fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles—we all talked about keeping them in our prayers.
When the letter carrier made his rounds, everyone hoped there were no letters from the War Department. Prayers and church services were an important part of everyone’s life.
At a young age, we were led to believe in a higher power that impacted all of us.
During the Viet Nam era, as I completed college, serving in the military was viewed as something much less noble than when I was young. Public opinion seemed to change, and people protested the government.
I continued advanced education earning a master’s and a doctorate in psychology and Christian studies. Like so many young people, you begin to isolate and insulate yourself to your own future. You’re absorbed in advancing your own life. You become a bit numb to the religious and spiritual discipline you experienced as a child. You become more self-centered and focus on career, marriage and future life. The spiritual side doesn’t seem as important as everyday life that is full of new freedoms and experiences.
But as the years quickly pass along with many experiences once enjoyed, you begin to realize the society you grew up in has changed drastically and the future seems unclear. The world you had a chance to experience in work and travel is changing and becoming confusing.
This led to a revival of the spiritual side of my life and an awakening of my religious studies. It became important to share my ideas and prayers with others. While working in the Pacific Islands, I often was asked to begin a meeting with a prayer or join in spiritual sharing.
When my wife Joan and I relocated to Naples permanently, after being snowbirds for years, we joined a number of clubs and organizations to quickly become part of the community. I thought I was retired, but Collier County Public Schools made me a student counselor and I finally retired after ten more years in academia.
When I lectured or participated in different groups, I often was asked to give an invocation at the start of meetings. I did this for a number of years and still do.
It was Joan (the real author in the family) who urged me to put my inspirational thoughts in a book for others to read and enjoy. So, my new book has finally been printed and I hope that maybe it will awaken your spiritual side of life. Copies are available for sale direct from us and soon on Amazon.com. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy and I will mail it to you.
Why did I write this book of prayers? The answer is that observing the spiritual side of life today is very different from when I was growing up. I grew up in a community which was the same community my father and mother grew up in. Thus, one was among family no matter where you were in the community. It also meant that if you caused any trouble your parents were the first to know and punishment could be swift. However, all that changed as people have moved and we have become a more mobile people establishing ourselves in new areas of our country and the world.
Thus, the old family support roots are not there as they were before the 1950’s. The religious influence has also changed with the new age of social media. The concept of assimilation into one people has changed and we now see many citizens divided and the predominant Judeo-Christian religious principles of the early colonists in America has changed with the new population from many areas of the world that are not followers of the colonists’ religious principles.
What we seemed to have lost is the spiritual side of life—less emphasis on institutional religious teachings and less focus on the spiritual to guide our life and future. The concept of hell is no longer believed by many.
In my opinion, studying any complicated design theme is a creator; machines did not just come together. There was an inventor which stimulated the development. As I look at the complicated universe with its planets revolving in an orderly pattern and the sun and moon are consistently present around our earth; and the stars in the Universe presenting themselves consistently over millenniums make me believe there must be a higher power than the humans to invent such a glorious spectacle.
I believe that this higher power can help us during difficult times if we recognize this Divine Creator and reach to this deity in prayer. Humbling ourselves and letting this Deity know through prayer that we recognize and rely on this Divine Being will help direct our lives as we trust in the Creator.
As educators for over forty years, Dr. Neil B. Curley and his wife, author Joan J. Hanlon Curley, have lived in or traveled to 100 countries. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of New England, a Master’s from Boston State College, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from Northeastern University and Ph.D. from United Faith Ministry and Ashwood University.
Dr. Curley also did advanced study at the University of Guam, University of New Hampshire and Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, Germany.
Dr. Curley serves as a board member of East Naples Civic Association, executive committee member of the Collier County Republican Committee, member of the Republican Men’s Club, the Naples Press Club and his college alumni associations. He is active in local political campaigns and lectures on the American Constitution to local clubs.