The little cards have been part of the life of my tiny church for years, passed up for sharing and praying, the concerns and joys of a little Jesus tribe. Now, they're transcribed and circulated via email to a group of Jesus folk who turn their hearts and minds towards God and neighbor as a discipline. The card, having served its good purpose, falls away like the first stage of a moon-bound rocket.
But for five years, the five years before my arrival, they were neatly filed away in a box. That box sat, untouched, in the pulpit of the church. It sat for years, until a recent cleaning. And now that box sat in front of me.
What to do, with prayers long since forgotten? I suppose I could have just recycled them, but it seemed wrong, like summarily discarding the keepsakes of a departed relative, or tossing an old flag in the trash, or throwing away the pictures of your child.
And so, for an hour of my day, I went through them, all of them, one by one. I suppose I could have been writing a memo, or writing about some important thing that we're all excited about now, or getting into an argument on Facebook. But it seemed, in that time, the thing to do.
Prayers for healing, for family members long since recovered or passed. Prayers for strength and guidance. Prayers for kids who were struggling, kids who are now adults. Prayers for tragedies that shook the global consciousness, but are now forgotten in the hungry rush of history.
They were written in pen and pencil, on cards of many colors. Some were doodled upon, pencil sketches of Pokemon and Disney characters, Mickey Mouse standing quizzical on the flip side of a hope for a friend.
They were written in familiar hands, of people I have come to know and love, written before I even knew they existed. They were written in the hands of the departed, and in the hands of those who have drifted away or stormed off.
I read them, all of them, in a shuffling rhythm, a prayer over prayers, gathering up and sharing the memory of our Creator, who ever recalls the prayers we've left behind.