I was having trouble sleeping with too many thoughts churning around in my brain. So much is happening in the lives of the people I love, and praying for them didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to place them, physically, in the arms of God. Since I couldn’t do that, I tried something else. I unfurled some thread.
In my mind’s eye, I connected a red thread from my heart to a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I watched it as it rolled and stretched out of my bedroom, through my house, out of my neighborhood, and across town. I sent another thread to a friend who’s experiencing serious heart symptoms and whose mother was diagnosed with cancer, and whose whole family is down with the flu. It’s a lot. That thread made its way several towns from here and landed, finally, at my friend’s door and inside to his aching heart. I sent two more threads just upstairs to my sleeping children, one to a friend who just lost his Mom, and another across the ocean to my friend who’s vacationing in Ireland. One to my neighbor, one to my friend a few streets away with a lot on her plate, one to a priest friend who had the unenviable job of answering my tough questions that week. Three to my sisters, one to my Dad, some to people I would rather not pray for. As these threads slowly made their way through my home, my town, my country, and my world, you could see how they formed a kind of web connecting us all. Of all the things I am sure we will understand, finally, in Heaven, our true connection with each other will likely be one of the most startling. We really do depend on each other. Our pain really is shared, our small kindnesses really do make a difference, and our prayers really do help.
I got a card in the mail this week from a very wise woman who said sometimes we run out of energy, strength, and faith to pray, but that we are never without hope because it is in those moments that the prayers of others carry us. She promised to keep me afloat in a difficult time, and I believe her. I can feel it.
As I send a thread out to this wise mentor of mine, I recognize that this is what we’re made for; to lift each other up in a world that is so broken and where so much of our suffering lies hidden behind front doors. There is a song from the show ‘In The Heights’, where a New York City neighborhood learns that a beloved character has passed away. ‘Abuela’ Claudia was like a grandmother to a generation of young people. She fed and nurtured them as children, and kept their pictures and graduation programs as she continued to encourage, accept, and pray for them as they grew. One of her ‘kids’ says about her death that “her heart gave out” and I can’t help thinking that’s maybe the best legacy we could ever hope for. Pouring out our hearts for each other, extending ourselves in times of challenge and celebration, really connecting in love, there’s no higher calling than that. As we create a web, heart-to-heart, with our prayers, words of encouragement, and acts of service, we can know for sure that those threads will last, so let’s make them. One day we’ll see how very much it matters.