The night before I got married, my maid of honor (Pat’s daughter) and I shared my twin bed after a long day of moving furniture, books, and kitchen gear to my soon-to-be new home. A twin bed and about 84 pounds of blankets. The next morning, she gave me a card. I couldn’t find that card now if my children’s lives depended on it, but I do remember the words. I always remember words. Something about friendship, something about marriage, a blessing… and then, in essence, this:
“Know that every time you tossed and turned last night, every time my hand landed on your shoulder, every time- I was praying for you. For peace, for strength, for joy.”
Sometimes, Ry’s anxiety swells to hysteria. These episodes are always worse when we are tired. Or, say, perhaps, when we are camping with 12 other family members and it’s light until 10pm. She begs me not to leave her in the tent to fall asleep. She begs me to lie with her. She begs me to be a better mother. It is close to spinning dangerously out of control… so I leave. I zip the tent shut and walk away. Down the trail, around the corner, away.
And, out of nowhere, I see Steph’s handwriting on that wedding card so many years ago.
When I return, I pull up my camp chair to the (sobbing) tent and silently press my hand against the fabric. The sobbing turns to sniffling as a little hand instinctively matches mine on the other side of the canvas.
And I pray for my Rylie. For peace, for strength, for joy.
I wash Gus Man’s feet tonight. I do it to calm him down. I do it to erase the mud, sand, and grease he has collected since dinner. I do it to send him to bed cleaner, but I quickly find myself on holy ground… right there at the kitchen sink, with a little boy and his double-fists of matchbox cars.
And I pray for my Gideon. In-between toes and bubbles, I pray. For peace, for strength, for joy.
Abby June is sleeping next to me. I watch her back rise and fall with the easy breaths of a carefree infant. I place my hand on her back and I smile. I know this is a moment… just one quick, simple moment. She breathes, up and down.
And I pray for my Abby June. For peace, for strength, for joy.
Maybe, just maybe,
I am learning another way to pray.