There was a 24-hour period while I was in Los Angeles when I got some distressing news from three different people that just weighed on my heart. I didn’t know how to react, what to do, what to say in response. My words seemed so inadequate.
I learned someone I worked with at the paper had lost her sister. A friend I met in college shared that her cousin had committed suicide. And I received an email from another friend who shared about how he was going through a very difficult time.
It was a lot to take in and process. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know what to do.
That night, during evening prayer with our volunteer community, I got a strong feeling that I should return to our chapel to pray the rosary. For whatever reason, I haven’t fallen head over heals with the rosary. It wasn’t a prayer I turned to often, so I knew this had to be the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Community life continued on. I forget if we prayed evening prayer before dinner or after. But it was getting late. It was closing in on 10 pm and I was exhausted. I just wanted to crawl into bed. A rosary in my bedroom caught my eye, and I remembered I had promised myself that I would pray. Figuring I’d broken enough promises to myself, I decided I would definitely pray the rosary this time, on behalf of these three individuals who had been put before me.
I wasn’t just praying in a room with chairs and a few candles. This living room space of an apartment had been converted into a chapel. And we had a tabernacle. Jesus was present!
While I was praying, kneeling before the tabernacle, I of course was getting tired. Upon finishing, I started thinking about how nice it would be to sleep in the chapel. I felt like I could just fall asleep right there. Why not?
So that’s what I did. I went back to my room and grabbed my alarm clock, a few blankets and pillows. Then I returned to the chapel. I spread the blanket out and camped out on the floor, a few feet away from the Blessed Sacrament.
I have to say, I have never had a more peaceful night’s rest! It wasn’t exactly physically comfortable, but it was so peaceful!
While changing positions during the night, I jolted myself awake a bit, conscious enough to realize that a prayer was always running through my head. A line from the Our Father. A phrase from the Hail Mary. Part of the Glory Be prayer. I was praying the entire night!
When I woke up, I felt like I had truly experienced what it means to be a child of God. I had allowed myself to curl up on Christ’s lap and be enveloped in his arms. That’s what it felt like. And it reminds me so much of this image of the Holy Family. I felt like Mary in this depiction, being cradled in Joseph’s arms. So much peace and comfort.
I offered what probably seemed like empty words back to the coworker who had lost her sister and the friend who had a suicide in the family. And I emailed back the friend going through a challenging time. I don’t know what I said. I just hoped that somewhere along the way, the message was conveyed. A message of community: you’re not alone. That we’re connected in our experiences and that we share the joy and pain together.
This was a great lesson to me. That prayer can be this intimate. We are putting ourselves in the presence of God. Like little children, we climb into his lap and share our problems or ask for him to help others (intercessory prayer).
The monstrance. That’s the one thing missing from this chapel experience. I love seeing the Body of Jesus exposed in the monstrance. It’s a beautiful sight because it’s usually designed like a sunburst with these big rays. So, the Son of God is reaching out like a sun, extending his grace and mercy, peace and love to others. Reaching and stretching in all directions. For everyone.