A Prayer from the Not Quite Anything

A sliced orange, a sliced lemon, and peeled carrots rest on a cutting board.

I put my hands to work, peeling carrots. With each strip, my wrist synchs with my breath – Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I’m not thinking about it.

One foot in front of the other by the lake, I watch the geese. I am angry and grief-stricken and am praying The Lord’s Prayer over and over so that when I get to the picnic table and begin to write out my pain, I will not be consumed. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.

I betray myself again and again, still thinking there is some perfect path that I have missed. Weren’t you leading me somewhere, God? Why am I in my kitchen chopping carrots still feeling as if the next steppingstone has not been placed?

There has been much to worry about for months. My dad had Covid over Christmas; but Mom didn’t get it and he recovered. Our cat is dying, but how imminently we do not know. We can see the mass on her side, and we wait for the next steppingstone. I enter into praise throughout the day when I hear her crunching bites of food. And beyond what I can write about are so many foggy unknowns, large and small, in myself, my family, my community. I am in little battles left and right, and I am in big ones too. Weren’t you leading me somewhere, God?

I keep crying when I don’t want to and laughing when I shouldn’t. I seem to be praying constantly. My fingers go tapping out and deleting all my judgment. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

I have found God both unfathomably quiet yet intimately close in the silence. Maybe closer than ever, now that I let myself see all the things. The pileated woodpecker on the oak we almost cut. The swell of noise from the overgrown brush not quite on our property that I keep considering taking out but cannot stomach going through with when I see the birds’ life there. The spill of feathers and down where a waterfowl lost its life. The sunrise. My friends’ faces on Zoom. My husband’s hand and his assuring voice. Thy kingdom come, thy kingdom come.

Weren’t you leading me somewhere? Thy will be done.

Was it here? In roasted carrots and the smell of citrus, the sight of my dear neighbor’s trees full of red ornaments sparkling in the sun, my husband’s laugh from the other room, the email from my mom, the gif in the group chat, the song I had forgotten I loved, the creeping dread of lost things and death, in missing where I once belonged, in the watering of my plants, and in the snow clinging to the daffodil shoots? Did you mean for me to just be here?

The Psalmist says in 19 that The heavens are telling the glory of God.

There is no speech, he says. Nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Is it here, Lord, that you wanted me. Quiet and a bit lost – not quite anything but here, searching for these voices?

In the morning during prayer, four times I say it and cross myself — Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Ancient and tried, those words. A submission and an acquiescence, not to law but mercy. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. He said that, didn’t he?

Is it here, that you were leading me?

Quiet. A bit lost.

Not quite anything.

But here. In need. Sick, even.

And so then, still calling. still listening.

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