One of my favorite memories, from years long past, is the eight week or so period I taught music in Maine, at the Freeport Community Summer Camp. Camp was held at a lovely secluded site that fell back into trees and woodlands on one end, and edged a beach cove on the other. Because of the daily change in the tides, our camp routine altered a bit accordingly. If swimming was pushed back a few minutes, music and arts and crafts and hiking would follow suit. It was marvellously entertaining, learning to check the schedule, and watch the shoreline, and then plan around what nature was offering for the day. Much of the time we sang and did our activities in sight of the beach, so that the endless movement of the water, in and out along the changing tidal line, was an ever present background.
From my earliest childhood, playing in the chilly water of the Atlantic Ocean on the edge of a beach was a favorite summer pastime. We usually played and swam a bit further south, along the beaches of Marblehead, but I don't remember the water there being any warmer than it was on the coast of Maine where I spent my college years. It was cold even on the hottest sultry beach days, and I remember the squeals and the running in and out of the water until finally we were acclimated and we could start playing in the waves. Then we would lay on our bellies or on our backs trying to ride them into shore as far as we could before the water would deposit us on some wet squishy sand. It felt wonderful to be transported by the energy of the moving water. We didn't have play equipment to assist us; it was entirely a physical encounter between floating children and sometimes gentle, sometimes powerful waves pushing and receding in an endless cycle.
I thought of the waves yesterday morning, when I saw another e-mail promising prayer for healing for my cancer. At this time I have Dominicans praying for me, Cistercians, Greek Catholics, priests, lay friends, family, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Jews, and even some agnostics I believe ; I am being carried and supported each day on waves of prayer. And this is what I find so beautiful: I can sense this movement, this support. I know that without it I would be consumed by worry and fear. Prayer support is as real as the water that flows over beaches along the shore. And to have discovered this about prayer is a wonderful gift.
I had not understood until now how gentle and merciful our Lord is when he gives us the work of prayer. I have prayed often for others, and relied in so doing on the mercy of God to answer those prayers. But to be the one needing prayer is to know mercy in a different way. At least I have experienced it so.
I know now that prayer uplifts, and it carries us closer to God, just as each ocean wave , moving toward high tide, moves closer and closer to the line that divides the wet sand from the dry, the highest point of the tide.
It is good to know that people are praying for me. I understand that the promise of prayer is not a matter of idle speech; the fruits of prayer are tangible even if the exact intention isn't answered. I may not be completely healed from cancer in my lifetime, but my spirit is being mended and strengthened with each prayer that is said on my behalf.
Thank you friends for your prayers. They mean everything to me. I am relying on them perhaps more than you knew, and being sustained by them more than I ever thought was possible. I am truly blessed. May the Lord be praised!