What’s Your #PrayerStory?

Sometimes I think the movie Groundhog Day could have been written about my life. Every day at 7:00 my cell phone alarm goes off and I grope for the night table to slam it off. Gretta, nestled between my husband and me, shakes her head forcefully, her ear-flapping an urgent warning of the waterworks that are about to ensue if I don’t high-tail it out of bed and let her out for her morning constitutional. I let both dogs out and stand there in my pj’s (my very matronly, covered from neck to ankles two-piece flannels) and think about what I need to do that day. Then I go inside, get ready, come out and make breakfast for my mother or husband or both, then toddle downstairs to greet my computer.

Wedding day …. waltzing on the church steps

“Good morning, Lord.” My turquoise rosary beads are just where I left them, draped over my favorite picture of Craig and me on our honeymoon and beside my favorite Willowtree figurine of a weary mother rocking her toddler, both of them draped in a fleecy blanket. You cannot see either of their faces (this is Willowtree, after all), but somehow you know they are utterly contented. No one but them in the whole, wide world.

This is my favorite time of the day. Not because I’m a morning person — Lord knows I’d sleep till noon if I didn’t have dog duty. But when I first approach my computer, push the button, and wait for the desktop to fire up, there is a pause in the universe. The veil between heaven and earth parts for just a moment, an open invitation to spend those first few seconds … listening. Waiting. Sorting through the wheat and chaff in my mind and figuring out what needs to be done that day. Knowing that likely it WON’T all get done, but asking God to guide my steps to the most important things.

Is anybody listening to me as I rattle off my wish list? I believe so, but that’s not really why I do it. Nor is my “morning offering” particularly spectacular, more like the poor widow’s mite. (I do my best thinking after lunch.) Rather, it’s an important reminder that this is the day the Lord has made to do the things HE has for me to do. The rest can wait. The rest doesn’t matter.

I was recently invited to compile a special prayer book for moms, gathering the favorite prayers and prayer stories of the Catholic women from all walks of life, to bring to life the prayers we pray — classic and original, prayers of praise and contrition and thanks and beseeching. It’s already been a fun project, connecting with women I’ve never met — or haven’t spoken to for years. I know I’m going to learn so much from this … and I want to invite you to come along for the ride. (If you haven’t already signed up to get my posts in your mailbox, this might be a good time to do that.)

How does your day begin? Do you luxuriate in your dedicated prayer corner or (like one woman I know) compose your morning offering over the kitchen sink? What’s your prayer story?

On Making Plans: Thomas Merton Prayer

If all had gone according to plan, I would be arriving in Rome today with my husband and our friends Katy and Todd, to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversaries. On Monday we would have boarded a cruise ship, which would have conveyed us across the waters to the single most important item on my bucket list: a guided tour of the Holy Land. All the while we were planning it, my heart raced to think of what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, to visit the place where heaven truly touched earth.

This was my plan. As it turns out, God had a different plan. And so, this year Craig and I hosted Thanksgiving for a small group of family and friends, while Katy prepares to take the last round of chemo. They had tried to get us to go on the trip anyway … but I had made a pact with God. “Just make her well. The trip will wait until we can go together.”

Of course, it’s a bit foolish to bargain with God, who I am sure sees how it all turns out, and even knows whether we ever get to make that trip. All our plans, seen on that scale, really don’t matter. One of the most important lessons we need to learn in this life is that there is precious little that we can control ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to learn to trust.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thomas Merton)