Saturday, February 25, 2006

What goes around, comes around

If my informal goal was to worship at three different churches this week, I failed by two-thirds. Three different scheduling conflicts kept me from morning Mass at St. Martin's. I found a couple of other excuses to skip the Thursday evening Eucharist at a nearby Episcopal church I mean to investigate--the main thing being that I was so tired I would have had a hard time staying focused on anything at all that night. I am trying to shoehorn a little too much into each day, I know, so something had to give, and that was it.

Now it's Saturday and I haven't decided where I will worship tomorrow. And Ash Wednesday is this coming week, and I still have no idea what to do with myself for Lent. I remind myself that I need to be patient about this, but I am tired of feeling "out there." I want to come in from the cold. I want to go home, wherever that might be.

When I heard about the Episcopal Ash Wednesday service in the chapel at the university, I thought I would probably go there. Then I thought maybe I ought to be with my Episcopal community here instead. In a small community the absence of individuals makes a difference, and at least for now that's the best thing I have going in the faith community department. I know I draw a great deal of strength and encouragement from others; that's why I need to feel I belong somewhere.

Last night I had dinner with a group of people who are associated in one way or another with the elementary school my kids attended. I sat next to a man who is thought to be the school's oldest living graduate. At 89 he doesn't hear very well and there was loud music in the background, so our conversation was rather one-sided--when he felt like talking, I got to listen. Anything I wanted to say to him had to be shouted at top volume, and even then there was a good chance I'd have to repeat it several times to get through to him.

This man is a Native American and for a while he was telling me about the talks he gives to college students on Native American spirituality. Then he spoke about his belief in the power of prayer, and he told a few stories about people who had sought him out and asked him to pray for themselves or for people they loved. I felt an urge to ask him to pray for me but I didn't; I think I was intimidated by the thought of having to shout it out until everyone in our near vicinity heard me, too.

This morning I was sorting through some papers mostly related to taxes and I came across a note a friend sent me last year. I didn't read the whole thing over but my eyes did fall on a line toward the end that said, Be assured of my prayers for you. I was intensely touched by that. It's not the kind of thing that I feel comfortable saying to people even now, though occasionally I'll promise to keep a good thought for someone. But the idea that someone else was praying for me really touched me.

I wish I'd been brave enough to shout out my prayer request to Ed last night, but I promise you this, Ed: I'll be praying for you.


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