The Beauty of the Prayer Gift

Recently, I participated in a reflection day in our Convent in Newbridge on the theme Aging Gracefully presented by Maria Garvey (Founder / Leader L’Arche Belfast)
Maria offered us many positive ideas in the course of the day, but it was the subject of what GIFTS we have to share with our world at this time in our lives that seems to have grabbed my attention most.
While in no way minimising the challenges of advancing years, Maria focused us in on some of the needs of our world to which she suggests we are particularly well positioned to respond no matter what age we are or how frail we may feel. She named those needs in terms of Presence, Rest and Prayer.
The suggestion of how we can offer the gift of our Prayers to our world resonates strongly with me. As a member of the Chaplaincy Team in Holy Family School here beside us I have so many opportunities to offer the support of our prayers to pupils, staff, their families and indeed the wider community. There are many requests for the Sisters’ prayers and even in the most seemingly hopeless situations this support and expression of care is valued greatly. One teenage girl expressed her gratitude for our prayers, when having shared a very distressing family situation with me she said “I feel safer now because I know you and the other Sisters are praying for me and my family”.
The young girls response and Maria’s insights remind me of the following reflection I came across some years ago in a book by John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes
“It is a wonderful gift when a person prays for you. One of the greatest shelters in your life is the circle of invisible prayer that is gathered around you by your friends here and in the unseen world. When you are going through difficult times or marooned on some lonesome edge in your life it is often the prayers of your friends that bring you through. When your soul turns into a wilderness, it is the prayers of others that bring you back to the hearth of warmth. I know people who have been very ill, forsaken and damaged; the holy travellers that we call prayers have reached out to them and returned them to healing. The prayer of healing has wisdom discernment and power, it is unknown what prayer can actually achieve. When you meet someone at the level of prayer you meet them on the ground of eternity. This is the heart of all kinship and affinity. When you journey in there to meet someone, a great intimacy can awaken between you.
It is said that if you pray beside a flower, it grows faster, when you bring the presence of prayer to the things you do, you do them more beautifully”.
Let us intentionally give and receive the Prayer Gift as we grow old gracefully.
Kate Cuskelly, Sonas Chríost Community