|A Prayer Diary||
It has been a busy Christmas week for all the usual reasons, which this year included an 80th birthday party put on by kids at the Wayside Inn. Family and friends added up to a gathering of 38 people I love. By the 30th, the actual birthday, family had departed and I was ready to get back to my usual routine. And what does that include? Visiting people. And so, off I went, making three visits. Definitely God’s call. Very grateful.
Our church carol sing was last night. We set off to an assisted living facility to sing to two long-time members, one whose wife died this past June; then to the homes to several members who invite us in or wave and sing along from the window; next to an over 55 condo village. Final stop, our minister’s home for pizza.
This marvelous event has been organized for years by one of our members; people come and go, situations change, different stops appear on the itinerary. The event is clearly intergenerational; children who joined us as toddlers, showed up again, home from college. Some things change, some things stay the same. The message is constant: Jesus is born, love is expressed.
Every Tuesday I volunteer at a local food pantry. Over the past two years I have become friends with many of the seniors who come during my shift. I use the word friend, but it’s a special kind of friendship. We exchange pleasantries and I listen to their stories, but I don’t share much of my life in return. However, they teach me compassionate ways to lead my life.
Yesterday, for example, I heard this Louise (not her real name): When someone is grieving, don’t ever tell them, “She’s in a better place.” Louise had just attended the funeral of young woman who had been killed in an automobile accident, leave two young children. This was another family tragedy that Louise had experience in the last two years—the deaths of two of her sons.
“You have to keep going, but it is tough. Just don’t tell me they are in a better place. Just be with me in the sadness.”
What do we do when we first wake up? What are our first thoughts?
I’m not someone who sleeps in, so if it is after 5 I am ready to get up. Sr. Vassa’s message this morning reminds me of the track I want to live on. I want my first thoughts to be of God, not of my plans for the day, or, worse still, of the day’s breaking news. Whether I lie there or put my feet on the ground and start the coffee, I want my prayer routine to begin.
Here’s a helpful passage (Eph 5: 14-20) for those of us who sometimes wake up before the alarm-clock goes off, and then proceed to lie there, thinking this and that, in the darkness of the early morning. I find this is not a good idea, to let myself lie there and think. It’s a better idea to pray, letting God into my day as soon as possible. Why? Because my own thoughts, when divorced from prayer in my most vulnerable moments, like the early morning, tend toward various forms of darkness and merely-human fears. “Awake, O sleeper,” the Apostle tells me in these moments, “and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.