Side by side, my husband and I enter the double-doors. We are, as always when we come here, hand in hand. We make our way through the foyer and into the double doors of the church. We move single file down the aisle. I am following behind him .He stops at our regular pew, and steps aside. I briefly genuflect and move past him to take my seat. He kneels in prayer before sitting. We are in God’s house. And here, hiding from my own thoughts, masking my emotions is impossible.
My faith has always been a quiet constant in my life. So quiet and so natural- that somehow along the journey with my children and Zoe’s illness- I had almost forgotten about God.
I pray- saying the maintenance type of prayers you learn as a child. At night when I fall asleep, before Zoe’s medical procedures- the standard, memorized prayer here and there. But that is all.
I am focused on other things. Making a difference with my children’s care. Being an advocate. Finding answers.Maintaining my business. Managing my emotions and the reality of our discoveries. And in the midst of all this- there are times when I feel overwhelmed, exhausted and very much alone. In these times especially, I have forgotten about God. It has never occurred to me that he is there. Waiting for me, willing to offer comfort and strength.
I am not good at asking for help. In my world, it is the last resort and never my first thought. In times of crisis- my first thoughts are how can I fix this? What can I do to make it better? I look for answers and concentrate on actions. Something unseen like comfort and strength- and God’s omniscient presence appear too passive in these moments.
Sitting in church, the music begins and I know. There is too much quiet- too much empty space alone with my own thoughts, emotions and fears. Not enough distraction. We have shared many special memories in this church. My husband and I, newly married, worshipped here together before our girls were born. We celebrated their baptisms here in this church- with family and friends. When life was simple. Before we knew.
On this day, across the aisle- there is a little girl, about 3 years old. Her hair is a fine blonde like Zoe’s and she is wearing a dress similar to the many that hang in Zoe’s closet. This little girl is fidgety. Fidgety in the way I wish Zoe was .This little girls muscles are strong, her body is healthy. She is energized in the way Olivia hasn’t been lately. This little girl is kneeling down and standing up. She is walking across her family up and down the pew.
I hear the scripture, the Deacon reads the gospel and the new pastor gives the Homily with the message “do not fear”, Sometime before communion there is a song with the words reminding me “you are not alone”. I see the tear stains on my blouse, and my fingers wipe away the wetness on my cheek.
My husband places his hand on my knee. I realize then- the very resource I had forgotten all about. God. Seeking comfort and consolation- from God. Putting my trust, my frustrations even my fears in his hands with the hope of finally finding peace.
There in that church I began my own prayer. Not the simple memorized verse of childhood- but something for me.
My God, I began. Be my strength and my comfort. Bring peace to my hurting heart. And teach me how to ask for your help. – Amen