This week is my annual Week of Guided Prayer, my ninth and the third (thankfully not consecutively) without Deacon Ron. There has been so much upheaval in life the last few months, I wondered more than once if maybe I should pass it up this year. But at the same time I knew if I skipped it, I would regret it. I cleared my schedule and I mean completely cleared my schedule. I took the week off from work, I doubled up on my schoolwork so I have nothing due this week, and, although not of my doing, it worked out that the boys are with their father and his new wife for the week.
Saturday morning at the opening, I wondered who my director would be, wondered at least until she spoke. As soon as she opened her mouth, I knew who I was assigned to. I’ve never laid eyes on this woman before and yet I recognized her voice as soon as she said, “Good Morning” to the group. I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting but I knew the voice. Yeah I know how weird that sounds. Rank it up there with the rest of my strange Jedi skills of knowing things I can’t possibly know. I gave up trying to explain it a long time ago.
When we broke into groups and arranged our meetings, she handed me my readings for the first day. I took one look at that slip of paper and started to laugh. Jeremiah 29:11-14. Again.
Jeremiah 29 11-14
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says the Lord, and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.
God has been stalking me with that verse for at least five years now. As in a post-it note tucked into an old wallet and forgotten until precisely the right moment two years later kind of stalking. This isn’t the first time it popped up during the Week of Guided Prayer either. The last time it was at the end of the week and my reaction to it then was not exactly warm and fuzzy. Instead it led to a sit down with God in an empty chair across from me that just thinking about still gives me the shivers, even three years later. I knew back then that our discussion was far from over. So much has changed since then. What sounded so beyond impossible back then is happening now. That future full of hope seemed so far out of reach and now I’m in the midst of something I never thought possible.
And just in case I thought to brush this off as coincidence, Sunday’s psalm was Psalm 23. The first time I did the Week of Guided Prayer, I spent the entire week on those verses. Okay, so God got my attention. Seems like we may be revisiting some things from years past and that’s not a bad feeling. It feels sort of like hauling out the old family photos and sorting through them. Remember this? And this? And this?
And in keeping with tradition, it is once again the hottest week we’ve had so far this summer. I have yet to figure out God’s rationale for that one. But it does serve to send me to the beach with a book in hand. No school reading this week. Hasidic parables will just have to wait. I had been waiting until the end of summer classes to read Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book Pastrix but it’s been calling my name. Very much turning out to be the right book at the right time. But that’s another post entirely.