Recently, Sandy shared her successful pie-crust recipe with me. I greatly appreciated it because my own efforts, though consistent, were hardly stellar. (Her secret is to roll the crust between two sheets of wax paper.) Now, every time I make a pie, I find myself lifting Sandy in prayer. I thank God for her sweet nature, her sense of humor, and her friendship towards me.
On a vacation to the Dakotas a few years ago, one souvenir was a rock from the Crazy Horse monument site. My friend Janet’s son works on that project. Now, every time I move the rock from its doorstop-post to dustmop the hardwood floor, I pray for Janet, for her 4-generation extended family as they care for each other and witness to love and community.
When my mother died in 1992, my father gave me her sewing machine and her stand mixer. Now, every time I hem a pair of pants or make Mother’s famous Sour Cream Pound Cake, I visit with her in prayer. I thank God for the long marriage my parents maintained and the family they nurtured. I gratefully realize that Mother is still teaching me how to mother my own daughters.
On Wednesdays at noon, I play in the bell choir at my church. My sister, Janice, is also a member of her church’s bell choir. Bell rehearsal is the time that I most intentionally bring Janice before God. I remember the childhood closeness we shared. I lift her life to God and pray for his care to surround her.
God is showing me new opportunities (“triggers,” if you will) for intercessory prayer. I welcome these moments of being with my loved ones. I don’t try to impose my wishes for them on God, but simply to bring them before God in fellowship and thanksgiving. This has been particularly on my mind during All Saints and All Soul’s. I am grateful for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds me.
Those are beautiful examples of prayer, and they use a kind of mnemonic device that sounds like a medieval practice of memorization via association. I’ve caught myself doing something like that sometimes too, though not as consistently and intentionally as you. When I’m chopping vegetables, I sometimes think of an old housemate, Susan, who was terrified I’d cut myself and taught me how to hold a knife in the safest way (she’d learn this while working as a prep cook at a fancy Minneapolis restaurant). And when it’s 11:11, I pray for another old housemate and her daughter, since that friend had taught me to make a wish whenever I notice it’s 11:11. And–do you think the prayer channels ever work the other way? Sometimes when I’m chopping onions and garlic for a dish, after a long day of teaching and grading and prepping class and such, I feel myself relaxing as if my peasant ancestors were suddenly appearing, delighted, saying: “Thank God, at last we can understand something you are doing!”