A few days ago, we opened the office door to a visitor. The visitor, who isn’t a parishioner, walked up the stairs and when we both set eyes on the other, I did sense some distress. Looking at me with tears in their eyes, they simply said, “I need someone to pray with. I need somewhere to pray.” I said, "Sure. I will pray with you and offer you a place to pray." We walked to Old Brick. For whatever reason, there was no answer to my inquiries as to what was going on or how I may be of help. All this visitor wanted to do was to pray.
The moment we walked into Old Brick, the visitor knelt down on one of the kneelers, and in uncontrollable tears offered their prayer. After a time of praying together, I excused myself and offered space for a more private prayer. You could tell there was a lot on their mind, that there was so much to deal with, so much going on. There was so much to tell God, to pour out. Someone, at least, had to be the receptacle for all that the prayer gave voice to. In the midst of all the prayer, I was reminded of the comforting words of the Psalmist - “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” With these words, the Psalmist doesn’t dismiss the turmoil of betrayal, doubt, helplessness and hopeless that we may sometimes experience in our lives, rather that when we ever do reach that point, when we get to the point of giving up on ourselves and on God, we should always remember that we have a God who does hear our supplication and is very much in touch with our anguish. God is that loyal companion who never leaves us, even when events in our lives simply don’t make sense or add up.
I like to think of God as the loyal companion, and that thought reminds me of Tahereh Mafi’s words about the moon: “It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.” With these beautiful words, Mafi speaks about the moon in a way that reflects both the loyalty of God as being present, as well as the constantly ever-changing circumstances of our lives.
For us, each new day brings with it something new, something different, or some challenging task. In many instances, we have to respond to one thing or another.There’s never a dull moment. In all these different and varying circumstances our imperfections are not only self-evident, but it is through these imperfections that we unleash pain, disappointment, betrayal, suffering, and hurt to others. We create the anxiety, helplessness and hopelessness that others feel and live with.
God doesn’t create those conditions for us, or for anyone. But God is there to fix it. Like the moon which never leaves but knows our light and dark moments, God is there to wipe away our tears and to assure us of his abiding presence, even when we feel He’s nowhere to be found in the midst of our crises.
What brought me great joy about the visitor was their willingness to believe that the house of God will be open to welcome anyone who desires to be in the presence of God.
I would like to end with the words of the song Someone to Care:
When the world seems cold and your friends seem few
There is someone who cares for you
When you've tears in your eyes your heart bleeds inside
There is someone who cares for you.
Someone to care, someone to share
All your troubles like no other can do
He'll come down from the skies
And brush the tears from your eyes
You're His child and He cares for you.
You are always welcome to drop by for a prayer in Old Brick. There’s nothing like a heartfelt prayer in the house of a loyal companion.