And we can’t pack up our clothes yet and move on to another season.
For the longest time I believed firmly that she would come home in April.
And then I released that hope into the winter wind and knew April would be when we held her and whispered, “We’re going to be your mommy and daddy” and left her behind with that promise.
But instead April became the month of hope deferred, of dreams not met, and of a thousand tears and a million prayers.
And with my heart broken into a thousand pieces, I found myself thinking and caught myself saying, “All that is left to do is pray.”
And HE who has never stopped listening, never stopped singing comfort over me, never stopped speaking softly in my ear … He didn’t whisper this time.
His conviction stung deep.
“Prayer has never been all that is left to do.”
Prayer was the beginning more than two years ago when He asked, “Have you forgotten the adoption promise?” And when I responded, “But when, and how, and where,” He whispered in Ben’s ear, “Now”. And we asked a hundred times and a hundred ways, and the answers sometimes came slowly and sometimes came fast and sometimes came all at once. His answers formed our passion and presented our feet with the trail to tread. And if prayers made concrete, we would have paved a path to Africa and back a hundred times already.
But most of the time His answer was the long way.
Prayer was the middle of the journey too. And as the days dragged on and became two years of leaves turning, falling, and growing back again, the saints joined with us in our weariness and carried us, and prayer was never last. It was never the only thing they could do or the last thing they could do, but it was always the greatest thing they could do on our behalf. And her name rose up to the heavens like a chorus from His people: Aida.
And He said: “My son heaved on the cross and sucked in His last breath, and in His sacrifice gave you a gift of freely communicating with Me. And don’t dismiss His payment by dismissing this part of the gift. Talk to Me. Whisper to Me. Sing to Me. Shout to Me. Simply say My name. But don’t mistake prayer as a last resort."
There is power in prayer.
Prayer is for when disappointment squeezes your heart tight, when grief makes you forget how to breathe, when you are spitting fire, when you have great news, and when you have bad news. It’s for when there is no news at all. It’s for when you’re weary, or when you’re too confused to string together a sentence, or when you’re in the endless wait. It’s for when you don’t want to pray, and it’s for when you can only whisper a word or simply sit and listen to HIS. It’s for when you’re filled with joy and sing out the celestial shout, and it’s for when you’re entangled in the muck and can’t unwrap yourself. It’s for whispering over someone all suffocated by fear or for when you’re the one who’s suffocating.
It’s for when winter comes early and stays late.
It was for then, and it is for now, and it will be for tomorrow.
So all four of us keep whispering His name and her name, the repetition that has become the quiet rhythm in our home and in our hearts as the season’s have passed.
And it seems again that His answer is the long way.