Fervent, Faint and Few

In some things it is easy to figure out how to show love – David moved into his first apartment last weekend, and I could show up to unpack the kitchen and buy him a starter set of groceries. It’s something solid you can do, you can point to, it’s corporal act of kindness.

You can knit for someone, send flowers, pop a “hey, I’m thinking of you today” card in the mail. You can bring a meal, offer to help with housework. Sometimes you can just show up and give them the world’s biggest hug.

And if you are at all like me – a doer, this is your preference.

I use words – I use words always – telling people that I care, what I value and admire about them. I don’t use those words as much or as often as  I want, but I am trying. There is still a residual stigma from my childhood – my parents used words that did not match their actions and I still believe what you do is more important than what you say.

So what happens when you cannot do? There are the times that I can’t do a damned thing. The person is too far away, the hurt is so big that no amount of groceries or knitting will do anything. Times when I cannot think of a single thing to do. Times when there is nothing to do.

I pray. I pray for people even when I do things, but I especially pray for those when I can’t do anything. I’m not sure what it says about my faith that I turn to my most fervent prayers when *I* cannot help the situation, but there you have it.

A colleague and friend is in an absolute garbage dump of a situation. There is literally nothing I can do about this other than to tell her that she will make it through and that she is not alone in the mean time –  I am only a phone call or an email away.

I find myself walking in a city two provinces away from her, thinking and praying. It seems so little, such faint hope, such a small amount of comfort. It seems like no immediate help at all, if I am honest.

And sometimes, as  I walk along, as I lay in bed before I fall asleep, reciting the daily office and praying for others, I grumpily ask God what it is that I am doing and why I bother.

And He is often silent. Still, I keep on. Mostly because when I cannot do anything else, I can still do this. It may not be much, but it is something and when it is the only something I can give, it must be better than nothing at all.

I believe, you know. That when I can’t do anything else, I can hold you up to God, the Universe or what ever you conceive the divine to be, and I can ask that deity to spare a thought for you, to spare a bit of extra care and concern, to drop some kindness, some gentleness, some mercy and some respite into your life.

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2 Responses to Fervent, Faint and Few

  1. Christa says:

    My faith tradition tells me that it is a real thing to do for someone, to pray for them. And I really do want to believe that, and therefore that you do offer prayers is something that I find inspiring and hopeful; maybe someday I’ll be able to do that again. But right now, I don’t know how to think about intercessory prayer or of any prayer that asks for something. It seems that things are going to happen, despite what we pray for, so why ask? Or what is it OK to ask for? We clearly cannot ask for a specific result (it has no apparent effect); but what about attitude, can we ask for the grace to respond to whatever rotten things in a certain way? Consequently, I hardly have anything to say in prayers, since I feel like I can’t make requests and have little else in my stock of what to say. If you have any words of wisdom on this matter, or suggested reading, I’ll take it.

  2. debby says:

    I pray, because sometimes it is the only thing that you CAN do. Do not belittle the emails or phone calls. You know, I have a friend in Canada who has sent me e-mails in times of trial, and they do help. A lot.

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