I have been praying for weeks for a dear friend, one of the touchstones of my life. She is ill and weak.
And I am weak in ways I do not wish to be.
We are worn down by this pandemic, by the isolation, by the loss of all our props and distractions, all our coping mechanisms from nachos at the Mexican restaurant to picnics with extended family, gone. And so we are left, where we are told it is best, alone in our homes, with brains that are bored.
Between the loss of my father and the loss of my marriage, my disappointed heart can’t abide my brain.
All my brain does is throw out suggestions like a croupier tossing cards in a casino: we should go to a museum. No brain, we can’t. We could go to Skipper’s Fish Camp. No brain, we can’t. We could go and visit Aunt Harriette. No brain, we can’t.
We can’t go anywhere, especially now, when school is back in session, and I have at least 95 close-ish contacts daily. If I go to the YMCA, do I risk exposing patrons to the student’s germs? If I go to the YMCA, do I risk exposing children to the patrons germs? Everything is fraught.
And it seems like, too, my prayers are fraught. I know, of course, after all that I have been through, to keep praying. But tonight, as I sat on my bed, praying for my friend, I had this thought: It’s just words in a room.
And there’s no denying that, is there? All prayer is, really, is words in a room, you, talking to God. You, imploring and beseeching and thanking and praising and releasing. You remembering your friends, asking for help for your family, telling your Father what you need, and even what you just want.
You, talking in a room.
In the face of that simplicity, of the nothing that “room talking” sometimes seems to be, I am so grateful for the thousands of things I see outside of that room, things that confirm God’s presence and provision.
- I was on a walk and prayed to find a rubber band; within one minute, a former student, home from Michigan, stopped her car to say hi–her gearshift covered in ponytail holders.
- I noticed that I had lost a gold earring my grandmother had given me, and I prayed desperately to find it–when I returned home, it was in the driveway gleaming amid the pine straw.
- At 3:30 one day, I thought that chicken tetrazzini would be good; hours later, a friend making chicken tetrazzini felt an overwhelming urge to bring me some.
- We have been given so much: a dishwasher, a car, money for medical bills, and received scores of perfectly timed notes and phone calls and texts.
On the way home from a particularly terrifying doctor’s appointment last year, I found myself starting to really panic. Greg could die, have a stroke on the table. So much could go so wrong. And then, the clarifying thought: You are riding in a car someone gave you.
You can’t worry in a free car.
Or loading a free dishwasher.
Or eating chicken tetrazzini delivered after dark.