When I was growing up, my grandmother practiced a very different faith tradition than the one I was raised in. It seemed alien to me, and parts of it were even disturbing. She once told me a story, however, that very much informed my ideas about prayer and intercession and God “hearing” us. A few years ago I told her what an impact the story had made on me and she didn’t even remember the experience. But for me, it has always been an affirmation of the Light.
She was on her way to church one Sunday, taking a short cut through an alley behind a discount store, when she noticed a man sleeping in the alley. He looked as if he could use some help. She felt called to stop and give him some money, but she was a reader that morning and running late for the service. She continued on to church, but throughout the service she prayed for him and affirmed that God would care for him.
After church, she returned to the alley and, holding out a five dollar bill, approached the man, who was now awake. The man seemed stunned, and when she offered the money he said, in a tone of disbelief, “Keep your money, Lady. Look what happened while I was asleep.” He opened up his shirt and showed her that while he was sleeping someone had stuffed his shirt full of money.
The way my grandmother held this man in her prayer, her concern, and her love remind me of the Quaker idea of holding someone or something in the Light. I sometimes think of our prayers as hammocks we weave to hold and support each other. I imagine this stranger, cradled in that hammock, as my grandmother gently rocked it with her prayers.