It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do.
These days are bringing up things in me that are unexpected. It makes good sense because these days are so, so unexpected. I’ve been aware that I’ve been trying to grab and hold on to some much. It feels like I’ve been trying to hold on to just about everything. Grasping tightly to the people that I love, to all that is precious to me. I've been trying to hold on and never ever, ever let go. Even in the midst of it I know that at some point I will let go of everything. In the stress of these unexpected days, I am trying to be mindful of what I treasure. Not clinging or grabbing. Not white knuckling it. Instead, when I am able to catch my breath and slow down my heart, if just for a bit, I am trying to hold on with an open hand. That for me is prayer.
Prayer is so much about letting go. When I pray, I acknowledge that things are bigger than what I can do, problems are greater than what I can solve, times are lonelier than I can endure. These times hold the prayers of letting go. These are the prayers of humility side-by-side with hope. These are the prayers that speak to seeing in the dark.
These days continue to unfold. What was unimaginable last week is getting pretty close for many of us and is now reality for some of us. These are days that feel like the tide is going out, way out further than we thought the tides could go. We are standing on the shore and the sand is pulling out to sea underneath our feet. It’s hard to keep standing. Prayers are whispered, sometimes shouted into the wind. And here, especially here I believe from life's lessons and stories, that God is with us. I believe that God hears our prayers. Sometimes it’s as easy and as hard as letting them go.
I love what Anne Lamott writes about our life-toolboxes. Perfect image for me, for this time, for my heart. I love that even against all odds, what we’ve counted on counting on – brings us back and brings us home.
(thank you, Kimberly Parker for this picture)