Prayer is laying the groundwork for moments of crisis
A Reflection for Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Find today’s readings here.
“Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32)
Today’s Gospel reading brought to mind a breathtakingly sad song by the singer-songwriter Jason Isbell. “If We Were Vampires” is a love song of sorts, but one that has death on its mind:
It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we’ll get forty years together
But one day I’ll be gone
Or one day you’ll be gone
Brutal. Love is nice and all, but it can’t last forever. If only we were among the undead, things might be different:
If we were vampires and death was a joke
We’d go out on the sidewalk and smoke
And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
I wouldn’t feel the need to hold your hand
How many years will we get with our loved ones? It’s not something we like to think about. It is, however, something that Jesus reflected on. He knew that his time on earth would be brief. He knew that some of his disciples would abandon him, leaving him alone at the moment he needed them most. But here’s the important part: He did not despair. “But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”
How many years will we get with our loved ones? It’s not something we like to think about. It is, however, something that Jesus reflected on.
One way to think about prayer is laying the groundwork for moments of crisis. When you are busy starting a career or raising a family, these moments can seem far away. But we know the tough times will come, and most likely when we least expect it. You catch a glimpse of it when you see a relative grow frail or watch a child go off to college. Things change. We know this can’t go on forever.
It can seem trite to say that we are never alone, that God is always with us. And to be honest, there have been times when those words have rung hollow to me. What I have discovered is that the words begin to resonate when you put in the work, when you have a sustained relationship with God, built through prayer.
Chances are, all of us will spend some time alone. It’s scary to think about. But here’s another way to look at it: Can those moments become a kind of homecoming, when there is nothing between us and the God who made us?