The day after her mother died, with the house silent, Mary Lou Quinlan reached to a high shelf of her mom’s Fort Myers, Fla., bedroom closet and discovered “God boxes.”
There were seven junky boxes stuffed with scraps of paper, each holding requests in Mary Finlayson’s loopy shorthand for celestial help in matters great and small: that an insurance claim be decided in her favor, that her daughter’s business meetings go well, that “the Pergo floor be the right choice.” Many, scrawled on receipts or business cards or coasters, asked to heal ailing family members, friends, strangers she had never met.
“She inhaled a worry. She exhaled a prayer,” is how Quinlan puts it in her book “The God Box: Sharing My Mother’s Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go,” a tribute to her mother, who died in 2006.
Quinlan, who had known her deeply Catholic mom put notes in God boxes but had never seen the boxes, created thegodboxproject.com to inspire others to surrender their concerns to the cosmos.
“There’s something about the folding and the putting it in and closing the lid that is freeing,” said Quinlan, who keeps a God box herself. “It says, ‘I’m not in charge; I’m letting go.’”
In addition to her book, Quinlan performs a one-wo- man play on losing her mom and is launching a free iPhone app (check website) that lets people keep a virtual God box and notify loved ones that a wish was made in their honor.
Calling it a “God” box, instead of a wish box or some- thing without religious connotations, is purposeful as it suggests trusting a higher power, Quinlan says it’s a practice for everyone regardless of religious affiliation.
Quinlan said finding the boxes allowed her, her brother and father to trace their family history through the prayers and see her mother’s empathy.