05/10/2012 07:27 am ET Updated May 10, 2012

'The God Box': Author Mary Lou Quinlan Discovers Hundreds Of Mother's Prayers And Dreams

NEW YORK, NY – Like many people who lose a loved one, Mary Lou Quinlan struggled to come to terms with the absence of her mother, the most inspiring presence in her life—until she found an unexpected gift from the woman she missed so deeply.

Quinlan always knew that her mother, Mary Finlayson, kept a God Box, a simple container where she put her prayers and dreams for everyone she knew and even those she didn’t know. To her amazement, Quinlan found not one, but 10 boxes stuffed with hundreds of tiny petitions that spanned the last 20 years of her mother’s life.

Rather than carrying around the burden of her worries, Mary wrote her thoughts and hopes on whatever scrap of paper she found handy and placed them into her God Box for release and resolution.

As Quinlan emotionally read through the notes, she began to discover things about her mother that she never knew; from concerns about her kids’ demanding careers, to private wishes for people she’d never even met, to concerns about her own health and everything in between. Scribbled everywhere from supermarket lines, at restaurants, and in the comfort of her own home, Mary’s notes were the ultimate expression of letting go in order to live the life you were meant to live.

"In the God Boxes she had left a 20-year love letter to us in a thousand pieces,” writes Quinlan. “The more I reread what she had written, the more I realized that these notes were more than mementos…And that ever my guardian angel, Mom would continue to teach me about myself even after her death.”

The Huffington Post asked the author if she had begun writing down her own prayers. "Oh yes, absolutely," the author replied, "I started when my dad was dying in the hospice. I wrote to God and my mom and asking them to take him. It sounds strange, but I wanted to put him in God's hands to take care of."

Quinlan offered some advice for adult children who face Mother's Day after the death of a mother. "Find a way to let her spirit be a part of your life. My mother loved to garden, and so I started gardening to honor her, and I love it. If you are at a gathering on Mother's day, make a toast to your mother and acknowledge and remember her."

Mary Lou Quinlan is the author of The God Box: Sharing My Mother’s Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go. Quinlan will star in a one woman show titled “The God Box,” which debuts in New York City in Spring 2012. Proceeds from book sales are donated to local charities including cancer and hospice care.

The God Box Prayers