A friend's husband, my own former co-worker and friend, died earlier this week. Just in the past month or so another friend lost his mother, a classmate's husband succumbed to cancer, and I learned of the death of another friend (along with my good intentions to see her again here on earth.)
There are others... many I can't think of right now.
Perhaps it's the stage of life I'm in, this middle zone between parents and children, on the cusp of "old age". Perhaps I'm just becoming more aware of the heartaches around me, thanks to online connections and communication.
Whatever it is, there are too many in too short of a time... too many cases of cancer, too many surgeries, too many sons and daughters facing crisis, too many out of work, too many ailing parents and siblings and friends. Too many.
Too many for me to keep them all in my head every day, every minute, along with my own personal prayers.
My mind is on overload.
Hence, the prayer bowl above, an idea I got from a religious education workshop years ago. I scribble each new name, worry or heartache onto a strip of scrap paper, fold it into thirds and drop it on top of the growing pile, offering the whole bunch up in prayer.
When it becomes full, as it will too quickly, I'll toss the bits of paper onto a fire. The prayers will float to heaven and become one with the earth, simultaneously.
Fifty two years ago the beautiful milk glass vase held flowers for my mother and her new baby (me) sent with love from her Sunday School class... a symbol of their prayers.
Now it holds those tiny strips of paper, folded gently around prayers of my heart, all of them lifted up to God with faith that he'll take care of them all, every single one, according to his plan.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:6,7