The other evening a friend needed prayer. So I slipped out of the house to walk and pray for her and her family. Maybe it’s a little thing, but it’s what I can do—and I’m happy to be able to do it.
When I came home, our 6-year-old confronted me.
“Mama,” he said. “You went for a walk without me.”
So we headed out into the dusk together.
“Let’s go a way we never go,” he said, and we turned down a different road. Our little boy stopped to look at leaves on the sidewalk, to peek at rabbits hiding in the bushes. He spotted cars from far away and children playing in their yards. We caught our first firefly of the season. He was full of questions and answers and conversation.
On a walk on a breezy summer evening, it’s easy to feel that there is all the time in the world. But the little hand that slips into yours reminds you that time is also going incredibly quickly.
“What if we are walking and we see a bear?” asked our little guy—his fears growing with the darkness. We don’t have any bears around here, I told him.
“But what if we see one?” he said. I stopped arguing and answered his question.
“If we see a bear,” I said, “we will run to a house where a light is on inside. We’ll knock and say, ‘Please let us come in,’ and we will go inside and be safe.”
He was satisfied. As we turned the corner, he saw his first star of the evening, hanging not far from the moon.
“You saw it, so you get to make a wish,” I told him.
He squished his eyes closed for a minute, as he quietly made a wish.
“I won’t tell you what it is, but I think it will come true,” he said. He still hasn’t told me.
I found myself thinking back to that serenity, that peace, that simple and ordinary joy we found that evening as I tried to make sense of the horrible news coming from Orlando. I feel helpless. I just want the violence, the hatred, the anger to stop. We need action. We need peace. And, although I see some people saying prayer is not the answer, I disagree.
Prayer is the answer. Prayer has to be at least part of the answer.
People have died. Their loved ones need consolation and strength to live without them.
People are injured and trying to recover.
People who can help prevent these events from happening again need wisdom and courage and support.
Prayer matters. We do not pray instead of acting. We pray as we act. We pray as we struggle to know what to do. But we also pray because this is so much bigger than ourselves. Prayer moves mountains. It changes hearts. It unites people for love and against hate. It brings us closer to God and to one another. It makes the world a better place.
Prayer is a little thing that is also a big thing. And sometimes it is the only thing we can do, especially when we are seeking God in the wake of a tragedy.
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness,” Mother Teresa said. “God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
May we each find silence today to be with God, and may we recognize that with God, we can each have a hand in building a better tomorrow.