I sent the oldest out after dark to gather branches in the cold. Sent him with his coat and a vase and instructions to fill it with what looked dead – but would soon be made new.
He wandered back in, the branches still dripping from the melting snow, and I arranged them. Tallest in the back. The one that bent gracefully on the left. Then, I fussed some more.
I wadded up grocery bags and put them in the bottom of the vase and began arranging again.
Still awkward. Still sticks in a vase.
So, I set that aside and started in on the ribbons that would symbolize our prayers. First, the ones in all shades of brilliant blue and then the ones that looked like rainbows had swirled themselves across the threads.
How do you know how many ribbons you’ll need? How many prayers will be whispered between now and Easter?
I put the first one on, one in blue for a little boy in Buffalo with a tumor gaining ground in his brain. Then, one in pink tipped with yellow for a friend with breast cancer. Jessie added one for his teacher who resigned and is struggling. And Benjamin grabbed a ribbon for the people in Oklahoma and in Joplin, Mo., who have picked through the rubble of tornadoes and pieced their lives back together.
I’m not sure who Colt, our youngest, prayed for. I didn’t ask. My husband just lifted him up so he could drape a silent ribbon on a branch.
Throughout the days since, I’ve gone and slipped other ribbons on the branches, tied them with a simple knot and left my heart’s request in the steady hands of God. With the addition of each ribbon, the sticks in the vase look less awkward, somehow transformed by the prayers that are covering them. And what was once a bit of an eyesore in our dining room has become the centerpiece.
I’m hoping the same is true for those we’re praying for – that the dark places in their lives are filling with comfort and peace and even colorful joy. In fact, I’m hoping love and hope tie themselves in knots and cover us all.
Remember: We’re hosting a Facebook chat with Jeff Manion, author of Satisfied: Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption. The chat starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, and it will be held on the Simply Faithful Facebook page. Some of us are meeting in person for the chat at Alpha and Omega Parable Christian Store, 1601 Penfield Road in Penfield, NY. I’d be honored if you’d join us.