“Hey, Mom. We need to have a talk.”
“OK, Floey. What’s on your mind?”
“Ever since you stopped writing your blog every week, I feel that we don’t talk at all. Oh, I know we still talk about the birds and the bees and the gophers when we’re on our walks – how beautiful the goldfinches are, how annoying the wasps are, and how fast the gophers can run when I chase them… But we don’t have deep conversations like we used to have. I miss that.”
“Well, I’ve got some time now. What do you want to talk about?”
“I don’t really care. I just want to spend some time with you, talking about some of the things we’ve each been thinking about. I know. Last month you played the piano in jail twice for the women’s worship service again. How did that go?”
“Oh, that was really something, Floey. The main theme we talked about both weeks was God’s healing. We sang There is a Balm in Gilead and Amazing Grace. You know what was the best part of those services?”
“I bet it was singing those beautiful hymns!”
“Nope. It was when we prayed for each other. Remember we all sit in chairs arranged in a circle, and near the end of the service we pray out loud for the person sitting on our right. That means the person on my left prays out loud for me. When she’s finished, everyone says Amen, and then I pray for the person on my right, and so on.”
“Well, the first week, Marie, the woman on my left, prayed a long prayer for me. She thanked God for bringing me to play the piano to help them sing hymns. She asked God to bless me and my family. She thanked God for all kinds of wonderful attributes that she thinks I have. I felt really blessed as I heard her pray. Silently, I thanked God for letting me participate in a worship service with these kind, caring women.”
“That must have felt really good, Mom, to be prayed for like that. The woman who prayed for you sounds like a really nice woman.”
“It did feel good, Floey. And Marie seems like a good, kind, Christian woman.”
“After the service I told the chaplain how surprised I was at the long, glowing prayer Marie prayed for me.”
“The chaplain then told me a little about Marie. She was in jail awaiting trial for murdering her teenaged niece. Apparently Marie had been taking care of her niece, and had used physical punishment as a means of disciplining her. When her niece died, she moved the body out of state and managed to keep her hidden for a long time before a relative finally told the police.”
“How can that be, Mom? Do you think she really killed her niece?”
“I don’t know, Floey. Life is complicated. Maybe killing her niece was an accident. Maybe Marie has severe mental illness. Maybe not. All I know is that she prays like she really loves God and wants to please God regardless of what happens in her life. And I know that she blessed my life by praying for me. And I will continue to pray for her that God will comfort her and bless her regardless of where she spends the rest of her life.”
“Wow. How about your next week in jail? Was prayer time the highlight of that service, too?”
“Yes, it was, Floey. It wasn’t quite as dramatic, but the woman who prayed for me thanked God for bringing me into their services to provide music, and then she thanked God that my spirit was there the weeks that I wasn’t there in person.”
“It sounds like you like to be prayed for, Mom. But I don’t blame you. I’d like to hear someone pray for me sometime, too.”
“I pray for you, Floey, but I’ll admit that I don’t think I’ve ever prayed for you out loud in front of you. We’ll have to pray together sometime. We should pray for each other like we do in jail.”
“I’d like that, Mom.”
“On the subject of prayer, Floey, Joan Chittister talked about prayer every day in August in THE MONASTIC WAY. She used a quote by Teresa of Avila as the theme for the month’s daily devotions.
Authentic prayer changes us, unmasks us, strips us, indicates where growth is needed.
“Chittister’s reflection on August 5 really grabbed my attention.
The role of prayer is not to coax God into doing what we think would be good for us. It is to embolden us with the courage it will take to do, ourselves, what scripture shows us Jesus would do in a similar situation.
“On August 12th she wrote:
When we discover who we really are, we are finally able to understand others. To be compassionate toward them. To be a gift to the world.
“Then on the 18th she said:
Prayer is the wail of the soul to become what we are really meant to be.
“Near the end of the month she reached the conclusion:
If we are too busy to take time for prayerful reflection every day, we are too busy to be human, too busy to be good, too busy to grow, too busy to be peaceful.
“You know, Floey, between jail and Joan Chittister, I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer over the past several weeks. I think I see prayer a little more broadly than I used to. It’s not just talking to God about what I perceive to be my needs and the needs of my friends, or thanking God for all the good things in my life. It’s communicating with God on a deeper level, learning more about why God created me, and how I may fit into the big picture of life. And it’s about learning to appreciate all of God’s creation. It’s about communicating with God in many different ways throughout the day and night. And I’m just beginning to learn…”
“OK, Mom. That’s enough deep conversation for now. Let’s go for a walk to look for goldfinches and gophers.”
“Good idea, Floey. Enjoying all of God’s creatures is another way of praying…”