In this world where news of torture and death runs like a ticker through my day, I’m realizing in a new way that I must learn to pray. I must learn to sit in silence with a God who is all-powerful and all-loving in the mystery of horrendous suffering. I must learn to lift up my sisters and brothers without ceasing. I must learn to pray ordinary prayers for them in my small way and believe that God makes those prayers matter.
There is a tension here that my husband and I find important as parents. As our life on a farm begins to mirror the lives of some of our ancestors who had closer connections to death, food, seasons, and the rhythm of days, our family has been given many opportunities to experience both a spiritual and a literal darkness that cannot be eliminated. We try not to shield our children from every hurt and pain. But we also encourage them in their imaginations, giving them a framework for hope and allowing them to “escape into” the longing for the not-yet that literature can bring.
Sometimes it’s a shoulder or a hand combing through hair. Always it’s a simple gesture or posture that says something about the person that the whole face never could. And I love that. I love the faceless portrait.
I watch the world through tinted glass — and often don’t really see it. I close the windows to control the climate and keep the gnats — and the world — at a distance. I drive past the same homeless woman walking our sidewalks several times a week, and have I ever stopped the car to chat? Only twice in nine years. My car is large and strong, and it insulates me from the world like an armored vehicle.