little left but prayer

by bam

ever since the news swept out, ever since we heard the word that the earth convulsed and heaved and paid no mind to bodies in the way, i’ve found it hard to be inside my house, safe and warm, unshattered.

found it hard to sit beside my little one, he in warm pajamas, nibbling on banana, sipping milk, sitting on a stool that had no splinters, that was smooth and whole, warm air swirling all around us, the night’s cold breath blocked by glass and wall and roof.

couldn’t fathom, though we tried, he and i together, how not so far away really there were children crying, couldn’t find their mamas or their papas, maybe. couldn’t find a brother or a sister, or the family dog, the one who always curled beside them when the night came on the island.

haiti, suddenly, isn’t so far away, although the breadth and depth of the destruction in the wake of the once-in-200-years quaking of the earth is so incomprehensible.

i find myself, once again, riveted by tragedy on this small whirling globe.

this one feels so close to home. this one makes me shudder in my warmth, my comfort, my going to sleep knowing my boys are safe.

how can one people be so pummeled? not only now, but always.

how can some of us escape again and again? how can some of us think the car nearly out of gas on a frigid morning is a big fat deal? how can some of us be blessed to worry only that our children might not find the answers on exams?

we’ve been praying, my boys and i, the little we can do. we’ve been imagining who each prayer was prayed for. we imagine a child, or a grownup, we imagine a whole scenario, and then we pray a prayer just for that one someone we’ve imagined.

we paint pictures with our words, try to make the prayer concrete, explicit, particular, for the prayer to come alive….

“for a little boy, who is covered in dust, whose arm is broken, who cannot find his mama.”

“for all the children who are crying, and whose cries aren’t heard.”

“for the little one who is hungry, who hasn’t found her way to a slice of bread, to fruit.”

“for the ones who sit beside the rubble, waiting, not giving up hope, listening for whimpers, now fading, three days later when chances slip to nearly less than none.”

it’s all we can do, imagine prayer. construct biography and hold it in our arms, in the arms of our prayer, in our hearts that know no bounds.

we can’t, most of us, board a plane, bandage wounds, salve the brokenness. but we can stay with the mission. we can hold it day after day, hour after hour, night after night, in prayer.

and so we pray. and so we teach our children. we tell them stories. we show them how we pray. we know they listen. they’re not too young, not at all, to start to figure out how very blessed they are. how once again, they’ve escaped. but not far away there is no escaping, and thus we are all left to pray and pray some more.

this day i pray. for the ones who wail in pain alone. for the ones who are lost. who can’t find their way. who can’t find the ones they love. not one of them, i hear again and again on the news reports that crackle in from the broken island.
this day i pray and i don’t stop. there is little left but prayer for those of us who cannot rest when the world’s in pain, deep pain, inexplicable pain. pain they had no idea was just around the bend. about to swallow them whole.

carry on, the litany unspools……