prayer for the road
i awoke in the night, weaving the threads of my prayer for the road.
when the car is packed with the last few things — the ones you only think of as you ramble through the last few hours before buckling the seat belts, checking the rear view mirror, asking yourself if you really did remember to turn off the stove, and lock the front door — you might bow down your head. sometimes, you drop to your rickety knees (or i do, anyway, carefully placing a pillow under the one that especially creaks).
there’s never been a road trip from this old house, nor hardly a medium-long trip to anywhere, even a far-flung soccer field, in which we don’t launch into our prayer that always begins, “holy garden angels protect us.” it’s not that we endow the patron saints of delphinium and hydrangea with any particular highway powers, it’s that long long ago, when someone’s ears were just beginning to parse the garble of vowels and consonants that tumbled from our mouths, he was certain that’s precisely what we were saying. as happens, it stuck. 23 years later, it’s the garden angels who get our road-trip salutation.
that might be the prayer i pray aloud, the heartfelt benediction in lickety-split tempo, not unlike the sprinkling of holy water across a crowd, one last certainty between reverse and drive, but the one that i will murmur all day long, it’s coming from a deeper place, a place that’s been keeping watch, a place that measures growth in fractions of a decimal, when need be, and knows full well when thresholds are being high-hurdled.
it’s the soul of the child i love that i consider my most essential watch. soul, as i sometimes define it, is a weave of heart and hope, of dreams launched and shattered pieces glued back together, the repair becoming the strong point. the repair, the place where resonant lessons are certain to be found.
and so the boy i love — a man now, to be certain — he’s off to law school at the crack of dawn tomorrow. we’re driving him there, all of us. settling him into his grown-up apartment, poking around the landscape, learning about this place, this old new england town, that he’ll call home.
and i will blanket him in the whispered words of the prayer, the motherprayer, that i’ve been weaving all his life. i will pray for solid footing, for a feeling of belonging, being embraced for who he is, and what he brings to any conversation (for what mother doesn’t pray that her child feels whole amid the current, not shoved to margins, the periphery of ill-fit diminishment?).
i will pray for laughter to animate his hours, because deep in the core of study, there is always room for the spray of great good humor, for the gleam that flashes from his eyes, because hilarity is among his strongest suits. and laughter, i’ve long believed, is the bellow of the angels here among us.
i will pray for sacred moments to graze his consciousness, for him to feel a sense of having been touched by the hand of the Divine, to gather up those daily beads of deep-down knowing that he is not alone, he is held in heaven’s light. i will pray for gentle kindness, for those who cross his path to stitch his hours with that unifying softness, the one that reminds we’re all in this, this daily grind toward tiny triumphs, we’re in it together. compatriots on the dusty road of living.
i’ll pray that the pitch of the trails he climbs is within his stride, will stretch him, strengthen his resilience, build capacities. and that the vista from the summits will fill his lungs, charge his heart, give him just the blast he needs to set out again. to take the climb up another notch.
i’ll pray that every once in a while there’s a victory so sweet he can cup it in his hands, hold it, savor it.
i can hardly bear to pray that when the heartbreak comes — and it will come, in varied doses and degrees — he is held and wrapped in arms and heart and love that temper crushing blows, that extract the sting, that salve the wounds and set him on his way again.
i pray, i suppose, that all his life, and certainly on this adventure just ahead, he lives and breathes with the full armament of undying love that i’ve been breathing into him, believing into him, since long before the day he was born, and cradled in my arms.
go with God, sweet scholar. go always always with the God of Purest Love.
that’s my prayer for firstborn, or at least it’s today’s rendition. i never seem to run out of prayers for him. i live and breathe them.
no need to answer, but i wonder what might be the prayer you pray as you set out on today’s adventures?
I am awash in tears. How beautiful, darling. You teach me how to pray, especially since we are on the same life road. Thank you, thank you and safe travels sweet family. Remember DC is always awaiting you.
you are so beautiful. and i feel such a tie of heart, as you and i and our beloved boys embark on this next chapter, entwined in love. always, love…..xoxoxox
Oh my! I am sitting in my sister in law’s gorgeous garden as I read this and love the idea of Garden Angels. Wave to me in Rocky River Ohio outside of Cleveland as you all pass by tomorrow. I love road trips, even if that trip is to end in leaving a most loved child to enter a brave new world. I was thinking about patron saints and found this funny little resource. He not at a Catholic College, but the list is “divine”! 🙂 https://www.theodysseyonline.com/10-patron-saints-every-catholic-college-student-should-know
My sister and I leave Sunday for an 11.5 hour trip to Kansas City, MO to meet up with elder distant cousins and pick up old family pictures and papers. Will keep you all in my Road Prayers for safe going and returning. “May Angels fly with you wherever you roam and guide you back swiftly to family and home.”
oh, dear lord! if you could have heard me squeal when i stumbled just now on perhaps the most important patron saint i’ve never before heard about: saint expeditus, patron saint of procrastination!!!! as i just said to my sweet boy in text, we must build an altar to the fellow. oh, geez! divine is right!
love you much, lamcal. i will wave mightily as we roll by. i should have cramps in the knees by the time we wave to cleveland. sure wishing i could pull off the highway and leap into your SIL’s gorgeous garden right about then. have a safe and lovely road trip and an even sweeter reunion. oh, the joy of old papers. you are a treasure keeper, indeed. xoxoxox
and i love your prayer……
Dear Lamcal, I sent your patron saints list to my son who is starting a Catholic law school. I always thought Lost Causes was St. Jude so nice to know there’s a woman now! Many thanks and have a safe trip to KC!
BAM!!!! Loved this one.😁
thank you, dear gary! what a delight to find you here! thank you much….xo
“Holy garden angels protect us…” Oh, how I love this! May flights of garden angels attend you all along your way, precious family. Sending bouquets of love as you journey eastward. Blessings upon blessings to your young scholar, whose future is sure to be bright! Safe travels homeward, and peace, deep peace, in each heart. Life is beautiful. xxoo
thank you, dear beautiful. i love your prayer, “deep peace in each heart.” amen.
sending love. xoxox
Such a lovely prayer for your son as he starts this newest chapter of his life! I know he will forever feel the love you have for him, the wishes and prayers you surround him with every day. Safe travels to all of you and lots of luck to your son in law school!
thank you, dear dear jack! that he will forever know that love is there, as certainly as the sky’s above, and the ground below. a constant. xoxox
What Amy and Joanie said! They always have the beautiful words. My heart goes with all of you. Traveling mercies and big hankies. Loads of love. Best of luck to W!!!
thank you, beautiful. wish the rain would go away. not making the driver so so happy. we’re packed, right down to turkey on whole wheat samwiches and rain coats. sending love. will think of you when i glance at moons all along the way. xoxoxox most especially in destination town. where the moon will be fuller than full by my eye. xoxox
On the road, but thought I’d leave this bit of Whitman, a poem Will read to me yesterday….contemplating the road ahead.
We’re on the road today too. Just John and me heading to visit my sister in North Carolina. As we set out this morning, we said our family traveling prayer which I have prayed on every single journey of my life. It came from my mom. “Dear Lord, help us to have a safe and happy trip. Amen.” I know that on more than one occasion when my little ones were little and we were setting off in the minivan for the east coast, I stressed the HAPPY in the prayer. Basically, I was willing the tiny folks in the back seats to get along!
Hullo, from my road to your road! Love the chair’s expansion by highway! Just outside Syracuse. Love seeing you ping into my phone. Hoping you’re safe AND very happy!