Only a Prayer Apart
Only a Prayer Apart
A homesick child's anxiety is eased by the Bible verse her mother shares with her.
With my kids and husband out for the afternoon, it was a good time to go through the box of things I’d brought home from Mom’s house on my last visit. The old photos made me wish she lived close enough to see every day. I reached into the box and pulled out a scrap of paper.
Is this...? I unfolded it and gasped. “It can’t be!”
Written in faded marker was a verse from Genesis: “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.”
At once I was nine years old again, watching Mom pack my trunk for summer camp. I’d never been away from home alone for so long before. “Please don’t make me go, Mom!” I cried.
“It will be fun, Melinda,” Mom said. “You’ll make lots of new friends. You can write every day and tell me all the fun things you’re doing.”
I dissolved into tears. Mom gathered me in her arms and rocked me. “I have an idea,” she said. “The two of us can have a secret prayer. Whenever you’re sad or homesick just say it to yourself. I’ll be praying for you too.”
She recited the verse to me until I learned it. Maybe I was just tired out from crying, but it made me feel a little better.
“You’ll see,” Mom promised. “It seems like I’ll be far away. But we’ll be only a prayer apart.” At camp the next day I opened my trunk. Taped to the inside was a scrap of paper with our verse on it in Mom’s handwriting.
I did make new friends at camp, just as Mom had promised. And I had lots of fun. But I got homesick too sometimes; whenever I did, my special prayer made me feel better.
Over the years Mom pinned the prayer to my suitcase on my eighth-grade class trip to Washington and cross-stitched it for me when I went away to college. After I got married I hung it in my new house. My kids are growing up with the prayer too.
And now, just when I was thinking about Mom, here was the original, its ink faded but its power undiminished. No matter where I go, my loved ones and I will always be only a prayer apart.
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