If you pray and pray and pray - if you plead - often in tears - trying to trust - that your child gets some traction in life... if you ask for guardian angels and patron saints to protect and to pray... if you beat the subject to death and then when it looks as if there might be life still there you beat it again, together with your equally helpless and worried spouse... if you pray until you feel as if your chest is being torn apart from the inside and you keep telling God, "this child is Yours! You have to do something!" ...
... and then one day she up and enlists in the Army ...
...well, you blink for a minute, and then you reach out and touch that idea to see what it is, and then a deep and flooding peace overtakes the ache and your tears are tears of relief. You say thank you - for whatever this turns out to be. You know this is the answer you had been asking for even before you knew its name.
And then, if she has days of agonizing self-doubt and grueling hard work and confusing disillusionments and heroic overcoming, you pray again. You pray some more. The knot of agony is gone now, and you can rest, but you cannot be there for her. You know God can see her through this. (Could You remind her to go to church too?) Mostly, the prayers are thank you.
Thank you that she grew to be someone who felt such a sense of honor and duty that she found a way to serve. Thank you that she is making herself complete the task, and not just complete it but declare the real task to learn "to be nice" when no one else is interested in just being nice. Thank you that she's that gutsy. Thank you.
And then she tells you that the scuttlebutt is that the members of the company are being assigned for immediate deployment to Iraq. ("Are you worried?" "No! It's cool!") And so you pray some more worried prayers. And you carefully step around that place in your brain where the visions are. If you let them touch you, they will not let you sleep at night.
Please - whatever comes - just give her what she needs so that she can do what she needs to do. "From all evils that assault" both body and mind. Please. Please. And thank you for her willingness. She serves, and she knows why she serves, and she knows whom she serves, and she's not blindly blithely obeying an authority she thinks is always right. She knows what she's doing. Thank you. It's not whether we live or die - it's why. She knows this. Thank you.
And then she calls again. "I got Fort Lewis!"
Not the other side of this continent or the other side of the world?
Stationed here? Here in our state?
I am praying again.