Oh, dear Author of All,
here is my page.
These spontaneous words of prayer anchor me. I sync them with each inhale and exhale as Dreamer and I drive into town. We’re headed for my beloved mentor’s home. She’s 95. For nearly 40 years she has guided me in the ever-compelling, never-mastered art of reading aloud. Shared love of the craft increases our love for words and for each other.
Today will be golden. I’ve written a tandem script for an ongoing audio program that Dreamer and I produce. She’ll give voice to Sonnet 73, by Shakespeare, in response to Sonnet 18, read by yours truly.
I’m so jazzed!
We unload recording equipment, then ring the bell. Oh dear. Turns out she’s leaving for an appointment: a schedule snafu.
We book a new date, then climb into our car — which won’t start. Despite countless attempts. She waves goodbye as we pull out the manual. Next, we try the gear shift override. Multiple times.
Prayer seemingly budges nothing, including the locked steering wheel.
Happy are those with cellphones and insurance. Alas, our towing option is invalid. More calls. Various chains of command. The sky darkens. Flurries commence. Seeking the helpful, we feel less and less hopeful.
Another hour passes. Snow falls harder, and cold seeps through the car and our clothing. We feel powerless.
Finally, a tow truck is promised—sometime within the next hour. We’re hungry. Frustrated. Chilled. A long way from home.
We need, ahem, certain facilities. Swallowing pride, I knock on a neighbor’s door, brush snow from my shoulders. Considering the latest pandemic protocols, will anyone answer? Who opens the door to a stranger these days?
The homeowner not only ushers us in, she offers both bathrooms. Then bottles of water. Or would we prefer soda? Coffee or tea?
“Please,” she says, “Sit. Wait inside where it’s warm. Oh dear, you’re shivering. Blanket?”
She even proposes various snacks.
I recall my earlier prayer, that God would author my day. Taken in, sheltered, cushioned and cared for, I am embarrassed by her spontaneous kindness. She is both stable and manger, an opened door amid the storm.
Today’s fleeting brush with Eternity.
In the fourth century, St. Jerome wrote, “Blessed are they who possess Bethlehem in their hearts and in whose hearts, Christ is born daily.”
Here’s to welcomes—those we give and those we receive—and to room being made, again and again, within the unexpected wayside inns of our common hours.
Emmanuel, you come. You beckon. You shelter us with nourishing care. Oh dear God, thank you. May we do likewise, amen.
Epilogue: The tow truck guy knew a trick. Under his capable hands the engine kicked over. Having parked on a slope, I’d cranked the front wheels toward the curb. More strength on my part would have loosed the steering, allowing ignition.
But we would have missed meeting a neighborhood saint.
Dear friends, in whatever ways you feel stalled or stranded this season, we wish you kindly strangers, revels and reverence, mercies and mirth and healing hope.