by bam

it is what we do on days like this.

we worry, yes. we scramble eggs. we pack lunches, thick with steak. we check on bedroom lights late into the night. make sure they’re off, and tousled heads are sleeping. we drive. deliver children to the schoolhouse door. and all day long, we keep an eye on clocks.

short of picking up a pencil, and rambling on with no idea whatsoever just what it is we’re trying to convince, to whomever is the teacher who dropped the year-end exam onto our quaking desk, we really haven’t many worldly options.

and so, we surrender.

we employ the mothertongue as ancient as any known. since first birth (and i mean at the dawn of time), i’d wager, there’ve been mothers who turn their words, their breaths, their whispered vespers over to on high.

we pray.

we fill in blanks with words that wash out from deep inside of us, and over us, and far into beyond.

we pray for hours if we have to, keeping on with all the rest we do. not letting on that deep inside there is prayer at work.

we drop to knees. we sprinkle holy water, head and chest and shoulders. we turn to east. we genuflect. we lay down and stretch our arms as high as we can reach. we venerate. we call on saints, and ones we love who are no longer, but might well come to the holy blessed rescue.

oh, yes.

i’ve seen heavy-hearted mothers, on their knees, crawl up great stone church steps, and down a long, long aisle that ripped their flesh but not their spirit, dead-set they were on laying down their knotted bundled prayers at the foot of a bare and marbled altar.

i’ve heard mothers ululate, sending untamed sounds to a place that understands, even if we’ve no idea just where that someplace is.

we pray, us mothers all, in many creeds and faiths and dialects, but always in one united tongue: we pray for our children.

we pray for what they need. we pray for what’s beyond our reach, but so help us, we’ll provide–if prayer can make it be.

there is an alchemy to prayer. a mysticism that cannot be explained. it is holy pleading raised to the nth power.

motherprayer needn’t be explained. we needn’t pass a test. we can pray that children make it ’cross the stage without tripping on their laces. and we can pray — just watch — that the blood test comes back clear.

this ordinary thursday i was pulled, like lunar moth to lamplight, into the great stone church i always pass. only, this morning, my footsteps fell into the dim-lit chamber, empty at that early hour. only dawn’s light poured through stained-glass windows, washed the floor in many-colored jigsaw puzzle. but that’s not why i came.

i came, because deep inside my ever-catholic heart, i knew i’d find a tall wax column, one with wick poking from the top. for all the quarters in my pocket, and all the ardor in my soul, it was mine to spark with light. and let burn through all the day, and into night.

it is motherprayer kindled. it is bathing, i am certain, the boy i love with all there is that i can’t solely muster.

i scrambled eggs. i nestled steak between the onion bun. i squeezed his hand. and kissed him on the head.

and then i watched him lope into the classroom, where three last exams stack up like hurdles, the only thing between one long hard year and summer.

i knew, as i watched him go, that he wasn’t all alone. i could see a bright light shining. incandescence lit his way.

never mind that its flame was back at church, miles and miles away.

that candle wraps him, shields him. that candle gives him might, of the sort he needs today.

i know. i lit it with a motherprayer. and motherprayer is infinite and lasts forever.

motherprayer picks up, where earthly mother cannot reach.

motherprayer is wholly holy. and Holiness has ears, i’ve learned, for all that’s spilled in never-ending prayer of mother.

even if She whispers not her sure reply, i always know the Holy Answers echo back to me, and mine.

that’s how it is with motherprayer. and that is why, on days like this, i pray with all my motherheart.

prayer is many things. it is words. it is wordless. it is surging from the soul. it is, sometimes, practicing God’s presence. it is invoking all the angels and powers most supreme. no one religion holds a lock on prayer. it is hardwired into who we are. mothers surely aren’t the only ones who pray, it’s simply that our prayer–coming from a naked place that knows so wholly those who once leaned on us for breath and beating heart–is absolute and unbreakable. what motherprayer have you prayed? who motherprayed for you?