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Naming Names Isn’t Always the Way to Go

     Lately I’ve started naming names. In my prayers, that is. The list gets longer all the time, so I had to split it into sections. I have a section for family, one for friends and relatives, one for everyone I know with a health condition they have to live with, one for miscellaneous, and one for impossible-to-break cases.

     It began with Shoshanna Johnson. I saw her innocent, slightly-scared-but-trying-to-look-tough face in the video from Iraq and I knew I was going to pray for her until they let her go. So started the naming of names.

     Not that I hadn’t done it before. You know, “Please help Joey get through his finals,” and “Please help Marie do the right thing for her family,” and “Please, please, please don’t let me daughter date ---- (name omitted to protect the suspicious).”

     But this was different. I wanted my prayers to go straight through to Iraq – to Shoshanna, every day until she was free. So I began a new routine.

     “This one is for Shoshanna,” I announced each night as I lay in the dark, and then I prayed the “Our Father” and if my wandered before I finished, well then I started over. Some nights I was up ’til midnight starting over.

     When Jessica Lynch appeared on that same screen, I combined her with Shoshanna – sort of a two-for-one – and I prayed even harder. Then I added everyone I knew who had a “condition” of one sort or another and put them in their own section. Every night I named each one of them and said a second “Our Father” for them.

     Some people are so close to you, you have to devote the entire “Our Father” just to that one person. I have three “single sections.” And I have a section with connections: “Please make Sue and Jim and Brad and Mary and their children, Larry and Shauna and Harvey and Shauna’s husband Ivan happy.” I don’t pray for specific animals yet, but you never know…

     Each section gets its own dedicated “Our Father.” Every night I name every name and re-pray the “Our Father” until I get it right – beginning to end, no wandering off to wonder if I have everything ready for work tomorrow or if I remembered to transfer the money from savings to checking to cover the VISA payment.

     In the morning I’d wake up early and pray again. Gotta start the day right. Gotta take care of Shoshanna and Jessica and my kids and my dad and my husband and my friend with the tough life. Morning or night – always the same routine.  Name the names so that I’m focused in on each one, and pray the prayer. When Shoshanna was freed, I couldn’t bear to take her name off the list – she’s still there every night.

     It was beginning to take rather a long time, naming the names every night, but I was sure I was doing the right thing. But something happened last night…

     I was really tired from daily and twice-daily trips to the hospital where my husband had major surgery, trying to get my work done between visits and – yes, meeting my writing deadlines – and the next day wasn’t going to be any better. What would I do? How would I handle all of this?

     I started in, and although I usually put my section last (that’s the section where I pray for me to do what’s right), last night I put my “Me Section” first and began to pray. “This one’s for me,” I said, and I started as usual, trying very hard to concentrate and not to let my mind wander. “Our Father” I prayed as earnestly as I could…

     “Why don’t you just be quiet – and listen…”

     And so I did.

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