My grandmother, Catherine Heffron, was quite afraid of storms. I remember, as a little girl, when the winds would whip up, the skies darken and the lightening begin to spark, she would become very anxious, light a candle if one was available, and sit and rock purposefully in her rocking chair.
The clap of thunder brought out her blue crystal rosary beads from her dress pocket and her mouth began moving, forming the words of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be, in whisper volume, often punctuated with a frightened gasp and ever-more fervent praying on the beads.
Today, I assume that grandmother probably endured her share of violent, wind-driven storms in the northern woods of her native Wisconsin and really didn’t care for them one bit. Her now aged body still held the molecules of fear she endured, herself, as a young woman.
Yesterday afternoon, I had just returned from a visit with a friend who wanted to share some dark times and physical and emotional challenges she is now experiencing. As I came into my house, still somewhat concerned for my friend’s condition, the ominous tornado cloud formations over Oklahoma were being shown live on the television screen.
Before I began to see the devastating results and loss of children’s lives from this horrific storm, I had a telephone conversation with another friend, telling her of the frustration I’d had earlier in the day with a sewing machine I was only attempting to sew straight lines and zigzags with.
I do not discount my exasperating experience, but it was quickly put into perspective when, after the conversation concluded, the news started pouring in about Moore, Oklahoma and the annihilation of family lives and property.
As the evening went on, I found myself thinking of the children in the schools and the parents waiting to find their children. It made me think of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It also made me think of our guardian angels.
My prayer turned quickly to many conversations and requests of these family’s guardian angels. For the missing children, if alive, to be given some comfort and protection until found; for the parents, some strength beyond human strength in the waiting hours.
And I burned a candle for everyone.
This morning, I lit my candle as usual, for early morning prayer time. Again, the children came to mind….never, actually, far from it. I picked up my small Benedictine Way of Living Prayer book, and opened to a marker….the marker, I could not see, contained the “Angel of God, my guardian dear” prayer….Ever this day be at my side…. Is that how the angels told me they were there, on the job?
I didn’t have too many prayer words this morning. Just sitting in the silence….attempting to balance both peace and awareness of shattering loss so many people would have to find a way to endure and survive.
My two words in the quiet time were, holy and help. I didn’t have words for those words, I just kept repeating them.
I think it was about the Truth that families ARE holy, and I was uniting in compassion with the families in Oklahoma….and help……just a primal appeal from my heart.
The page I opened to in the prayer book had these words:
“It is for us to train our hearts to live in grace.” This reminded me of something a holy man suffering with cancer said: “Pray when you are well, because it is hard as hell to pray when you are sick.”
I am well and I pray for myself, my family and friends and the people of Oklahoma who may or may not find it hard as hell to pray right now.