It is really difficult to know how to help someone from a practical standpoint. As I engaged in my little tantrum this morning (and really, it mostly had to do with the lights, and the fact that I finally had to go to Walmart), I was reminded, more than anything else, of how little I have done for others at critical junctures in their lives. Because, honestly, I did not know.
I did not know that when a child dies, a mother simply stops getting out of bed and that, when she does have to go out into the world, if no laundry has been done in weeks, then she just puts on whatever she finds lying on the floor.
I did not know that when surgeries across two generations happen during the holidays, the holidays, perhaps, don't. At least not as once intended.
But I don't want to belabor the point. I want to say something else entirely.
I have felt, for the past month, completely enveloped by the prayer of others.
It started with the Caring Bridge site and all those candles, and then there were all the cards, and the emails, and the surprising gifts that began to arrive.
I've been awake at all hours of the night over the past few weeks, Always, I wake to the feeling that I am being held in prayer by someone, somewhere.
And all that prayer, what did it do?
It didn't alleviate my anxiety, it didn't eradicate the trauma to my psyche and my body, it didn't eliminate the pain. It definitely didn't "fix" things, and it didn't make me all cheerful and positive. It didn't make me brave, or witty, or a paragon of virtue. (Too late for that, I'm afraid.)
What did it do?
It made me feel cared for.
It gave me the certainly that God was laboring on my behalf.
And it was fun! I found myself imagining the chapel at Wernersville, and Lake Superior, and a labyrinth in Tallahassee, and Dahlgren Chapel at Georgetown, and a synagogue in St. Louis where I've never been, and Ursuline chapels in northern and southern Ohio, and candles in windows overlooking both oceans, and the sanctuary of the church I now serve, and offices at John Carroll University and at two Presbyteries and some of their churches, and . . . and . . .
Those were good thoughts to which to awaken, even at 4:00 a.m.
Image: Duluth Harbor, taken by a friend of Shelly Robbie's. I don't want to BE there ~ too cold ~ but it's a beautiful place to imagine.