99 and Not Counting

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

She’s 99 years young and I hope I can have just half her concentration if I ever live that long.

Born in 1911 she experienced WW I through the eyes of a child and then WW II through adult eyes. Her pastor husband was studying in Germany just as the Reich was rising. One night, as they listened to the radio in their guesthouse, there was a voice ranting from Berlin. They said his name was Hitler. It was time to leave Germany and fast. And so they did.

During he rest of her life family, church and faith took her to remarkable places, meeting fascinating people. I knew the children and grandchildren of some of them.

And then it was time to bring our visit to a close. I asked if we could pray together. There was no gap whatsoever between the spirit of our conversation and the spirit of prayer. Of course, said she. And by whatever mercy I thought to ask her to pray for me as well. After I fell silent her intense prayer washed over me like a healing balm. She assured me that it wouldn’t be the last time.

One of the things I have learned to appreciate are monks and nuns in monasteries and convents who perpetually sustain the world with prayer. That is their vocation, to pray. And it is somehow, strangely comforting to know that someone like that, somewhere, is praying for it all.

But there are other holy places and holy people of which we are unaware. That’s because some of them are disguised as nursing homes and nursing home residents. They are traveling incognito, flying under the radar, carrying God around by stealth. The liturgy of the hours is spun out there in such a way that the unobservant soul could confuse it with drudgery. But that’s only because they haven’t yet been prayed for by the right person. How will they know? Oh, they’ll know. When that happens everything that used to look ordinary starts to look like a temple. And in the center of the temple is the throne of God.

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