About 6 months ago I read about a contest a website ran to tell a story in 140 characters or less. The premise was that you could tell a story by text or Tweet. I thought it was silly until I read some of the entries. You really can tell a story in a sentence. I am not going to share some of those entries. Partly because I can’t find the link to the contest anymore. Partly because I found a real world example.
I was in Adoration this past week. (For those non-Catholic readers this is where some spend time before the Eucharist in quiet prayer or contemplation.) I’m often asked, “What do you do in that silence?” Where I work, one thing we have the opportunity to do is read and pray for those people who listen to our radio network. A practice I sometimes do. It is a blessing to read what some of our listeners ask our help in prayer for. Both positive and negative. It can be both uplifting and heart-wrenching. Either way it brings a grandiose feeling of community between those that work each day to bring the programming and those that listen to our work. Most of these same people include our work in their prayers, so it is the least we can do.
It is sometimes hard to not associate with what others are going through. I am going to break one particular prayer request up because it tells an entire story in one sentence. Right after telling that story, it drives home the point of why I am doing this blog. It really spoke to me. I open the request and it starts:
“In thanksgiving for our wonderful newborn…”
A smile comes over my face. As I hope you know. We recently added a newborn, first child, to our home too. I think to myself, “Wow, this is just like us.” The smile grows as I continue to read the sentence.
“…and the wonderful house we have with him….”
Awww, what great news. They are just like us. Their house has now become a home. That smile on my face became sunshine in my heart.
“….before he went to heaven.”
WHAT!? My biggest fear happened. They lost their little one early in life. It happened to this couple. That smile on my face went away. That sunshine in my heart changed to a storm. A storm that literally brought tears to my eyes.
That contest of telling a story in a sentence could have been won by that one sentence.
“In thanksgiving for our wonderful newborn and the wonderful house we have with him before he went to heaven.”
Wow. What do you say to that? All I could do was pray. I put the rest of the intentions back on the pile. This one request was all I could handle. I knew I would have this couple in my prayers not just for the time I was there, but for sometime in the future too. Then I realized, there were two more sentences.
“Please pray for our family. Thank you.”
I went back and read the entire request again. Something occurred to me. This is a prayer not for help, but thanksgiving.
This blog is meant to be a focus on the positive aspects of life. Not just the humorous, but the uplifting aspects too. And there I sat nearly in a state of mourning. Except for one very important fact. This couple wasn’t asking for help in mourning. They were asking for prayers of thanksgiving for the time they were given and the wonderful home with their newborn.
On that particular day on the web, I saw stories or posts by friends on Facebook and Twitter whining about the awful government, the terrible economy, how someone’s boss sucks, and how life is treating them poorly because they have to go into work instead of stay home and sit on the couch. And here I sat with a family asking for prayers of thanksgiving for the time they had with their child prior to a very tragic event. Not a Facebook post, nor a tweet. Just a simple, yet so powerful request for prayers of thanksgiving during a time that would devastate me.
Life is often about trust. Even in the darkest times there can be light. I’ll be the first to admit it isn’t always easy to see. Yet try we must to see it. One sentence that could have won a contest had it been a Tweet, did so much more in teaching a lesson than I could ever repay in prayer.
But I will try.
May God bless the three of them. Bless their thanksgiving and strength.