I had started writing a post over the weekend on a totally different topic when, after three paragraphs or blocks, I decided to hit delete and start again from scratch. I’m listening to Himig Heswita as I’m drafting this — and I guess that’s what sort of brought me to a more spiritual slant. (Eternally grateful to the Jesuits for their gift of knowledge in law school and music.)
Sometimes I think about writing and as much as I am dying to put the words to paper, I resist and postpone it for when I can sit and focus on it. That usually means it never gets written — because time has been precious and hard to find. Even blogging has been quite the struggle for me. I have always said how I wish I could write (and read) more. There just isn’t enough time to write all that I want to say.
Just like today. I wanted to write about a conversation over sushi and sashimi last Friday, and how I left that luncheon not just with a happy tummy. I walked back to my perch with a heart that was full. I am struggling with the words to put that together in a coherent post for now— so it’ll have to wait another day.
Then I remembered the husband and wife T and T and prayers. (Reminder to self: letter to T and T. Or even just T. )
Today I write about prayer. I start praying when I walk out the door, as I make my way to the bus stop (which is approximately 6 minutes away) at a leisurely pace. What do I pray for? I reaffirm my faith with The Creed, and then I follow a simple combination of prayers. I used to pray the rosary as I walked and ended it on the bus, but my prayer life has not been as devoted as that in years. Walking out the door with the son has also meant postponing the prayer for when I walk into the church on 43rd, because I end up talking him through what the day will be like. There are times when I put the earphones on and I start listening to the God Minute and I tell him I’m praying, in which case we walk in silence to the bus stop.
Still, I feel like I could pray more and do it with more heart.
I walk into Church and I stand at the back, mass or no mass. Like I wrote in a post not too long ago, I have a list of friends and relatives with health or emotional challenges I pray for by name. The cousin afflicted with cancer.. my bus driver friend with the tumors that they can’t operate on but which he gets treatment for each month. My siblings, and of course my mom. The mom of a friend who is also undergoing treatment. The grieving bestie at work who recently lost her Dad and has her medical issues. A friend back home who lost his grown son last year. My grade school friend who is trying to overcome cancer. A friend I never met and who found me through this space, fighting cancer for years now. A fellow postcard collector who is battling cancer in a land so far away from home. (I have postcards to write and send!) The friend of a brother trying to live through being HIV positive back home..
So no, I don’t pray to win the lotto — I am too busy trying to remember the ones that need to be on my list. I do pray that I be a good person each day — even if I know I don’t always succeed. I pray for a good day at work.. and then I have a very short list of two people I ask Him to keep safe here on this side of the world, besides my number one guy, the son. I pray that He bring the right people into my world— and to keep those who are not meant to stay, away from me. I pray for those praying in Church with me that very moment..
Sometimes, I do an express version of the list when I’m running really late. I start walking out before I get to the end of my petitions. I figure He would understand. I make the sign of the cross and walk out to start my day. And there are times when I just stand there in silence, not saying anything at all. I am just there — present.
I always remember to be grateful. One of the many retreats I attended in my younger years at St. Paul told us that praying is not just all about asking. It is also about thanking Him. And I thank Him for each and every day.
Last night, as I slept, I spoke in prayer to my older brother who died at birth. My life would be so much different had he lived to be the head of the family now. Four years my senior, he would’ve taken on the cudgels of making the decisions and of moving our brood this way or that. I never knew him growing up, but he would visit me in my dreams where he manifested as this person or other, but I was always aware he was not in the land of the living and he was who he was. And I always cried each time, more so when he hugged me. I was tossing and turning and doing my usual evening prayers. I called out to my “Kuya” (older brother or male relative), I whispered I was good and could handle my troubles for now, and I told him I wanted him to help my sister first. She needed him more than I did. I asked that he let her feel his embrace. Finally, I asked him not to visit me in my dreams because I would end up crying again like I always do. I know he heard me.
Prayer, really, is a matter of faith. And I have always been grateful that I was able to discover it early on in life. It has kept my footing steady when I would have otherwise stumbled and fell. It has helped me get up those moments when I lost my balance. It has kept me going through the good and the bad times.
So today I pray that He keep my heart steady.. and that He doesn’t let go of my hand. Amen.