Thursday, January 9, 2014

prayer without words

she presses into me, small limbs still overflowing my far-too-narrow lap. too narrow because i want to gather her up and never let her go, i want to rock her until she's forgotten whatever made her so desperate for this much love, this attention she craves from all of us but most especially me. i've become her favorite, this little dark-haired, winsome eyed girl with the too-jaunty smile, the ecstatic hugs and the quiet looks that let me know this one isn't any different from the others here.

she's been through the fire, and she's survived.

so i sit behind her on the floor, let her press herself into me even though i probably shouldn't--someone will get upset with me, surely, think i'm breaking rules--but this is the ranch, where kids are sent to be loved into knowledge of god's grace and their true potential. so she presses herself inward, the beat of my heart feeling loud and hard under her head. her hair rasps against my chin, the neat braid with its little flower, pressing into my cheek when i rest it on top of her head.

she curls her sparkly converse boots closer against my legs, pulls my arm around her. i pray for her, almost on reflex, pray love and healing and whatever else she needs into the tiny body that's wrapped itself against mine. the prayer is not so much words as simple impressions--as if by simply forming the intent of words in my mind, they will become so (but isn't that truly prayer without ceasing; sending every thought, like a rare bird, toward god, bringing every one of them into the substance of something worth going before the throne?).

in that moment, with the little ball of warmth against me and the unspoken prayer and the constant reminder that she should listen to the teacher instead of playing with my fingernail--or at least more obviously multi-task--i think i could do this forever. i could sit on a hard floor that's barely covered by ancient blue carpet, surrounded by kids who've been through things i could never imagine, for the rest of my life. i could do this, could pray prayers without words, could smile and laugh and gently guide, could pray some more when it seems nothing's going right.

and in that moment, i feel my heart open a little more, my dreams and hopes and plans flying away a bit more properly. i am content, i suppose, is what i'm trying to say. content to stay here, to love on what's in front of me, to pray the words that must be prayed. and i imagine this feeling will go away at some point and i'll be left desperately wanting out of my hometown, away as far as i can get, to the reaches of the earth, in places i can't speak the language and don't know how to eat the food...but for now, i am content with whatever is in store.

- Kyla Denae

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