This was a bad week. I had terrible headaches, and it rained so, so much and my kids woke up at 5AM (they are good little Muslims my friend likes to joke with me. your children love to wake up so early so they can pray). Yesterday I wanted to make my bed into a den and not come out until everything was better.
I bought a candle at the grocery store, the one where all the families with budgets to stretch shop. I am grasping at ways to connect to a good God in a world that is very bad. I think about how in the Scriptures it says that God listens to the cries of the oppressed. I think some of the most important prayers are coming from my neighborhood these days, the kids and mothers and fathers longing for safety, longing for justice.
I have decided on the darkest days, to light this candle, the ones made in bulk, Jesus with his heart on his chest. I want to have my own prayers join all the others going up around me. On this candle it tells me that Jesus is especially on the lookout for those who are weary and heavy laden. His favorite people are the depressed and the sick and the sad and the scared. Jesus loves me, even as I can hardly believe it, even as I make another dinner for my kids and wipe down the perpetually dirty counters and listlessly scroll the bad news on social media day after day after day. I lit the candle yesterday as an act of prayer, to make it more like a verb on the days where I can hardly do anything of importance. It smelled so good. It smelled like church, in my own living room, for a few glorious moments.
Today is a better day. I hung out with women from six different countries. We drank terrible coffee and ate donuts. The sun came out. My head feels better. But there will be other bad days, moments of despair, valleys of unknowing and shadows of death and displacement. And when they come, I will light my candle, I will join a chorus of prayers continually ever wafting their way to the heart of our very good Father, confident that I will be heard, because Jesus loves us, and we are so very burdened these days.
Action Step for Week 2 of Lent:
buy a candle at the local grocery store/tienda/dollar tree. light it and pray for our undocumented neighbors, or any neighbors who might be feeling afraid these days.
(or figure out some other tangible, concrete way to connect your prayers to theirs. I love hearing creative ideas, so please share in the comments if you have any!)