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busy work…

Every morning I stumble into prayer, in fits and starts, in sickness and in health. I am only awake in the quiet of the school day morning for about 5 minutes, just long enough to start the coffee and nod a quick “whassup” to the icon stand. It’s okay, they know where I live. They know I weave and bob around piles of laundry and worry. They know I’ll be back again and again.

On school days the kids exit the house one at a time, each going on their own path to school, by bus, by train, by carpool. As each one leaves I find myself stumbling into that prayer-

Have mercy on Riley

Have mercy on Chet

Have mercy on Henry

Have mercy on Miles

I give something up when I pray for people: time, thoughts, daydreaming, the illusion of control. The illusion that I can somehow fix it all, do it all, be it all is the sacrificial lamb placed carefully on the cold stone altar. It’s far easier to think that worrying will help in some way.

The prayer feels shallow at first. It is a drop of water in a parched pot of soil and most days when the grades are slipping or the noses are running or the deadlines are approaching I admit it feels completely ineffectual. But in good moments, after I plunge the knife into that illusion of control and set to prayer instead I find it does wear down the piles of worry. It does exorcise some demon of anxiety over the reality that I cannot be everywhere, I cannot do everything, I cannot fix most things and so I pray. Call it emotional and spiritual busy work, quotidian quaaludes, proactive prayer prozac. Whatever it’s called, it works.