For a three-month stretch when I was seven or eight, I tried to learn how to pray.
When I couldn’t sleep, I’d pull a children’s prayer book down from the shelf and move it to the crack of light that shone in from the hallway. I opened it up to the Lord’s Prayer and read through the words, hoping that praying would do something.
About a year before, my parents had sent my older brother to a Christian children’s home called Sunshine Acres. Then they put my older sister in a psych ward at a local hospital. In about a year, she’d join my brother at the Acres, permanently.
I was praying in the eye of a hurricane that was not quite finished destroying life as I knew it.
At the time, I didn’t really know I was praying because of the chaos in my family. I didn’t connect those dots. I just felt like something was wrong, was scary, and hoped prayer would help me stop feeling afraid.
Looking back, I am astonished that my first instinct was to open up a prayer book. We weren’t going to church right then. The Presbyterian church I had been before we moved to a new city was nice, but like many churches, its niceness seemed like the niceness of school: lovely and wholly unconnected to terror.
I prayed anyway.
If this story had a nice tidy Christian bow on it, I would have opened my mouth and had it filled with sparkling revelations.
But when I prayed, I didn’t hear anything. Not a whisper of comfort. Not one trumpet blast…
I’m so pleased to be at the Mudroom again this month sharing a story of holy, problematic silence. Join me there?
Image Credit: Vladimir Kramer