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Washing the Sheets Prayer

I wanted to pray for my son, wishing him well in his job and his friends and that struggle to do what you’re meant to do.

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James Martin had a good line about prayer: “There’s no right way to pray, any more than there’s a right way to be a friend. What’s ‘best’ is what works best for you.” So much for the variety of spiritual practice.

Yesterday William left to go back to California, leaving so early to catch his flight Carol and I weren’t even up. All I heard was him locking the front door and then dropping the keys through the letter slot (following the instructions Carol had left for him on a Post-it note). 

All day I missed him. That ache inside when your grown up kid is doing the right things and pursuing his career and brandishing his independence. If only he were around the block. I wanted to pray for him, wishing him well in his job and his friends and that struggle to do what you’re meant to do. How?

I washed his sheets and towel and cleaned the bathroom. It was a way to deal with the ache—maybe because I could be reminded of just why it’s best for him to be independent at this stage in his life. But as I remade his bed I thought about how much further along in his life he’d be the next time he visits, probably not for another six months. Six months is a lifetime when you’re only 23!

And there it was, as I was tucking in the sheet in the old bunk bed, reassembling the ancient stuffed animals and putting on the clean pillowcases, there was the prayer. “Good going, Will. Your mom and dad love you and can’t wait to see you again. May you continue on that good path you’ve chosen.”

It worked for me. Praying is a way of holding on as you let go.

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