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honor-1389241_1920This afternoon, my family and I donned our funeral black and took our places in the back row. We were at a funeral for someone we didn’t know. She was the wife of my son’s scout master and I have to say, I wish I had known her.

First her brother-in-law got up and talked about how much he and her husband loved to travel.  She didn’t but she went along because they loved it.  Because it was important to them, it was important to her and they felt her love.

Then her son spoke about how overwhelming it was to have a standing-room-only crowd at his mother’s funeral. But he knew that so many people were there because everyone, absolutely everyone, had been welcome in her home. Sit at her table and you knew you were loved.

Next up was her other son.  He mentioned how hard it was going to be to get used to doing the things that she did for everyone simply because she loved them.  In fact, as he put on his jacket, he noticed a small tear in the seam.  His first thought – maybe Mom will have time to fix it.  And she would have found the time and he would have felt her love.

Then came her sister and great-niece.  The girl read a letter written by her grandmother.  She talked about how they had been forced to move to Missouri when their parents died but this hadn’t shaken her sister’s surety that they were loved and her ability to share love with others.

A nephew spoke about how, when he lost his job as an electrical contractor, she had come up with work for him to do around the house and then insisted on over-paying him.  A daughter-in-law told about being accepted as family by date #3.  She also spoke about how this woman’s love for everyone was an extension of her love for God.

This reminded me of the Gandhi quote.  He once told a reporter that his life was his message to the world. Clearly, this woman’s life was her message.  And it was a message that the world so badly needs today.  I love you because He loves you.

I may not have known this woman but I can accept the challenge issued by her pastor. Lord, like her, let my life be your message to the world.


I often read about folks on Facebook being “lifted up” in prayer. It’s an arresting image, though somewhat foreign to this cradle Catholic. I like the idea of hoisting someone heaven-ward, raising them physically and spiritually in prayer. But it also sounds strenuous, the work of “prayer warriors.” Me, I’m more of a prayer peacenik.

Prayer doesn’t have to be hard, or serious, or even formal. All times and all ways are open to prayer. A friend just commented to me yesterday that although God can always find her, wherever she is and whatever she is doing, she needs to be in a place that feels “ripe” and “right” to connect with God. The line of communication goes both ways, but we are the ones who tie up the line constantly, being too busy and too distracted to answer God’s call.

Sure, we can “storm the gates” with our requests. But does might equal right — or in this case, do more prayers mean more action? I doubt it. I think God hears the tiniest sigh of the most overlooked and miniscule creature just as loudly as God hears a roar from the populace. Which is not to say God ignores anybody. But neither is God a democracy. The “ayes” don’t necessarily have it.

However you pray, whether in shouts or whispers, in crowds or alone (too anguished to share your burden), God does the “heavy lifting” of prayer. God sorts out our incoherent wails and moans, sifts through the dross to get to the heart of our needs, mourns with us, aches with us, longs to console us, does not turn away when we forget to say, “Thank you.” God does the work. We tend to forget that. All the prayer warriors in the world can’t do what God does, effortlessly and always.

So lift people up if you like. But remember: It’s a lot like that game we girls used to play at slumber parties, “stiff as a board, light as a feather” — you needn’t stress and strain. It’s in God’s hands. And in God’s hands, we rise.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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