“How does a touched heart pray?” is a question posed by Macrina Wiederkehr.
Life touches us every moment of the day. Sometimes we are fully awake and recognize the touch. At other times we are aware of only the confusion the touch stirs, and still at other moments we remain oblivious of being touched.
I was visiting a nursing home today and became aware of the faces of the caregivers. It was as though I was watching robots performing the necessary tasks but without any vitality or enthusiasm. My heart ached for them and I groaned—wanting so much more for them and for those for whom they were caring. What other prayer was possible in that moment than a groan? And I recalled Jesus being so deeply touched that his response also was to groan.
As I returned to Eremos, I began reflecting on the lives of people I encounter here. What amazing stories of faith and prayer! Yesterday I saw a woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have emergency surgery for something else before they could even begin to attend to her cancer. How does she pray? Through the prayer-filled support of others upholding her. And there is a couple who had their first baby recently. Both parents are exhausted and in the middle of the night their prayer is “Give me strength” and, as they look at their sleeping child, their prayer is a silent sigh of wonder and awe.
And there is the person whose prayer life is feeling arid and empty, whose cry is “Why? What is wrong or what have I done wrong?” And so her heart constricts with sheer longing for the way things once were.
So how does a touched heart pray? The simple answer is the age-old response: “Pray as you can and not as you think you should.” Each moment invites us to respond to being touched—it is our life of prayer.
In this month dedicated to heart awareness, may your heart be your response to God’s infinite love and constant presence.