Before I finished my silent prayer, Rebekah came out of the city with her water jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and got water. I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ Genesis 24:45
So last night at community group, after we had each selected our assorted tea and settled under the basking scent of fresh-baked cookies, the questions were asked: what has God said to you this year and what is your prayer for the year to come?
Not very Christmasy at first glance. But really it is very God Here Among Us moment. And for the most part they were variations on a theme of looking for The God Who Provides as each of us picks our way through the boulders of a sometimes weary sojourn. And sometimes the valley walls close in very high and the shadows are very dark. Except Alan. Mr. Alan is celebrating the beyond-what-you-can-imagine provision after twenty-three years in the wilderness of 44th Street tucked behind the strip mall and just past where the freeway loops.
And I think Annissa our scribe had problems recording my prayer for the next year. Because I didn’t say anything. It is silent. I am not even sure what ache lies in my heart. But the old familiar tale of Rebekah filling up her water jar over and over to slosh abundant water into a trough for ten camels beyond thirsty from a long desert trek before the silent prayer was even finished is a clear reminder of God Will Provide.
The LORD will see.
The LORD will provide.
And Therefore The LORD shall be seen.
And little stray bits of conversation around Christmas cheesy potatoes and yet more cookies sounded like seeds taking root.
And there was this moment yesterday morning, tucked in the middle of a busy crazy day that rips deep down into my heart that aches pretty much all of the time.
Check. Check. Check.
Right down the old to-do list of responsibility on my way to school, yes the dishwasher is flipped on, yes the back door is open for Pippen, yes the trash bins are by the road, slap slapping through the windshield wipers and swishing through the huge puddles that had already collected on Broadway, I turned left, towards the Catalinas heaped with white promise, and pulled right into the Wilmot Murphy Library to return the last Spanish fairy tale book that managed to slide under the seat yesterday and miss the trip to the Book Return slot. I was kinda in a hurry because I had a panel of relative big shots arriving in a few minutes to listen to my environmental science students’ final project proposals for saving the world.
Just as I popped out of the little black car I noticed a figure huddled under an old child’s comforter, squished against the plate glass front door trying to avoid the splashing downpour. Ah ha. I had been waiting for such a moment. I reached back into Everette’s car seat where I had stashed one-too-many gifts of Christmas cookies to share with an appropriate street corner sort of person.
Trying not to appear rushed as I obviously had things to do and places to go, I knelt beside the woman and handed her the red and green bag. She smiled. Faintly. I asked if I could pray for her and of course she nodded. And as I entered into that quiet but not silent prayer for pause, Mary, I started weeping. I wrapped my arms around her, and we both wept. For quite a while. There on the ground kind of tucked into a small brick corner in front of the Wilmot Murphy Library.
So that is what I thought about all day yesterday. Was that enough, a pause a prayer a twenty-dollar bill tucked into her fingers?
Or was it God’s voice whispering, “Stop it all. Pick up this woman and put her in your car and go to school and ask Meg Chandler to take your class and it will be okay and do everything in your power to help this woman on the next step of her sojourn.”
And I hesitated and all was lost.
And now. As I look at it in black and white. This is my prayer for the year to come.