The water heater broke that day.
I remember the water running across the garage floor, flooding plastic toys that were waiting for the little one growing in my swollen belly.
The water flowed endlessly, but I couldn’t seem to pay much attention to it. The day was a sweltering, early one in Las Vegas that morning.
It wasn’t the leaking water that woke us. It was the 7 am phone call.
Did you see it?
Have you heard?
Both towers! The planes flew right into them!
There’s another one – the Pentagon.
And a 4th… they are looking for it….
I startled from a deep, pregnant sleep. Shocked.
Repeated the words to my husband.
That’s all he said. He knew.
The rest of the day… burst water heater, blazing Las Vegas sun… all a blur. I remember rubbing the swollen life inside me while I watched the news…. stories over and over… smoke, terror, fear.
The eeriness of the empty skies in the city that day. The only day, in a city full of life and air traffic… everything sat silent.
What kind of place are we bringing you into?
I wrapped arms around myself in a thin attempt to protect this new life given to us.
We had 5 more little ones over the years. With each story passing along news tickers and told by animated reporters, I wondered the same.
What kind of place have we brought you into?
Monday. Scrolling through pages in the screen I glimpsed a message from a friend.
Two bombs have exploded at the Boston Marathon.
My mind raced to my dear girlfriend.
That’s where she is!
He’s running that race.
My friend, having just lost both parents to the vicious villain of cancer. Only three months apart. Sometimes it all seems too much.
She was there… cheering on her boyfriend.
What’s her number?
I lost her number…
My contact list, incomplete after being swallowed into the cyber world. Incomplete. My list was just incomplete without this sister I’ve had for 25 years.
Scrambling with sudden dread, I grabbed the remote and scenes of chaos flashed before us on the screen. Smoke, terror, fear. My warrior grew silent. The all too familiar scene required no words.
This time, the moment of panic to find out more as I worried for my friend, brought the scenes to life in front of my children. Eyes wide, they watched. The scenes, the stories gruesome. The voice of the reporter cracked in the familiar tone that took me back to September 11.
I turned it off. Sometimes it all seems too much.
A message flashed.
I’ve talked to her. They are ok. Here is her number.
A wave of relief fell across me… followed by a wave of dread. How many killed? Hurt? How much more?
The eyes from young faces peered at me questioningly. These little ones…. they feed from our love, they feed from our tempers, they feed from our joy, they feed from our fear. I do not want to feed my children fear.
I whispered as a I took small, young hands in mine. They nodded in silence and bowed their tender, trusting heads. We prayed for love. We prayed for healing. We prayed for peace and protection. We prayed over and over for the Father’s arms to wrap around the people of a city attacked by the evil serpent of terror. We prayed.
Sometimes prayer rattles like a check list, as if we have forgotten we are talking to the very One who loves us the most. It shouldn’t, but sometimes it does. This time we felt it. The Holy Arms wrapping around and a blanket of peace fell across the room. The glimmer of worry vanished from the young eyes and they went back to the carrying on of kids.
I texted with my girlfriend that day. Over and over the words strung together and revealed a disbelief of the reality before her eyes.
Her runner. He had, at the last moment, moved forward in the wave of runners. This put him ahead of schedule by 20 minutes.
Her runner. He finished the race. They moved from the victory line in celebration… 20 minutes before the bombs exploded.
Sometimes it all just seems too much.
She wrote of chaos and fear. Sheer horror and crying. Running and little kids scared to death because they didn’t understand as they saw horror on the faces of adults. She saw a mother and her children crying because their dad was running the race and they couldn’t find him.
Broke me right there.
Drawn into the place through her rapidly strung words.
Oh God, that breaks me right here.
I looked at the faces of my children.
We do that, don’t we? We put ourselves into these places of fear and dread… we imagine.
Weary children, warm beds.
My oldest daughter tucked tight under soft blankets.
Mom, will you pray with me?
I really want to pray.
And she prayed. The most beautiful words flowed from this child as she prayed for family, friends, new babies, fighters of cancer, and a city fear-filled and mourning. She prayed words that drifted like incense to the very feet of our Father.
A smiled crossed her sleepy face.
Goodnight mama. I love you.
Sweet slumbers took my precious girl.
Faith. She prayed the worries and wonders and why’s straight to the Source. She released it all and fell to dreams.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)
Prayers. Our prayers. The prayers of the saints are incense for our God. You know what He will do with the prayers of the faithful? He will build bombs. Bombs to right the world. To wipe every tear, to heal every wound. Fear will have no place to hold foot.
…Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8)
…He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:3-5)
In this battlefield of earth, where we wonder why…
We fight the good fight.
The good fight… we fight together…
To let go of fear, embrace the faith of a child, and fight the good fight… finish the race.
We provide the shrapnel of love that the justice serving God will use…
to turn the earth off its head… and back to holy ground.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.