“I don’t know what to do.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“What can I do?”
How many of us have said these same things when we have heard that someone is walking a bumpy road or enduring a trial? The answer is simple. For number 1: pray. For number 2: say a prayer. For number 3: same as number 2. It’s that simple.
And you can always do the tuna casserole if you have to keep your hands busy. That works pretty well, too.
Life is alternately hard and easy. It is a series of ebbs and flows. Sometimes, you are riding a wave of good fortune and mild seas while at other times, you are adrift, navigating bumpy waters, hanging on for dear life. Sometimes it’s other people who are in the midst of bad times. But one thing is for sure, we will all experience some kind of hardship and we all need each other to see us through. Cherish the good times and reach out in the bad. Because by reaching out—by saying “I need you, I need your prayers”—you will be allowing others to do what they can to see you through the rough times. Accept it graciously because without the ability to receive, nobody will ever feel the joy of giving.
I had a couple of years of bumpy seas myself. The first thing that was done for me, en masse, was a prayer service at my church. Very simple, very plain—just a darkened church with some votive candles, my favorite songs, some prayers from the heart—but the room was filled to the brim with people I knew, some I didn’t, and some just acquaintances. The word had gone out: one of us needs help. And everyone responded. I didn’t need anything else.
The group was diverse in every way possible: by age, by faith, by economic status, by hometown. But it was one thing that they could all do, to say, as a group: “We’re here; we love you; we’ll help you get through this. We are doing something.”
And if you have ever felt the power of someone, or everyone, sharing your collective burden, you know that it is a comfort. Together, despite our many differences, we came together to pray.
Prayer is a funny thing: some people embrace it, while others eschew it. I feel that prayer is a way to put positive energy into the world and to me, there’s nothing negative about that. When we pray—and I don’t care to which God or higher power you pray or we’re talking about—we focus on a power or energy that is beyond us. And if it centers us and takes us out of ourselves and into a different space, it’s all good.
One of us needed help today. So five of us gathered at a critical hour in this person’s life, when she would submit to a test that would tell her if what the doctors thought they saw on another, more general test, was indeed cancer. As we held hands and offered prayers between the silent spaces, I felt a power pass between us, an energy. And as the tears flowed from her best friend onto the individual hands of each woman, we acknowledged that we are here. We are doing something. We are praying.