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Photo credit: https://www.longislandpress.com/2019/12/13/school-bus-stop-arm-cameras-coming-soon-to-long-island/

For years now, I have walked my children to the school bus stop.  It has been precious time – holding hands, talking about expectations and hopes for the day, noticing nature’s wonders, playing games while we wait.  We have goodbye rituals too:  the four instructions they get everyday (have fun, be kind, learn lots, and do your best), waving and making heart signs from the bus, waiting until the bus pulls away.  They are rituals that are often taken for granted as the day’s to-do list creeps into one’s mind.  But when one pays attention, one realizes these are sacred rituals.

As you can imagine, the transition to the new rituals of Middle School has been a bit rough.  I am still allowed to drive my child to the bus stop, but definitely not allowed to get out of the car.  We still talk about hopes and expectations, except when a friend finally shows up and becomes the priority.  We are in that journey to adulthood where my child’s primary influences are changing from me to her peers:  and this is good and holy too. 

And so, I am creating new practices for myself.  When my child leaves the safe space of the car and boards the bus with twenty other kids, I have been surprised to find myself praying.  Praying for my own child, certainly:  that she will be safe from this pandemic, that she will cultivate friendships that are life-giving, that she will be inspired by the gift of learning.  But as I watch the other children board the bus, I find myself praying for them too:  for the ways in which Middle School can be so brutal, for the struggles at home they may be experiencing, for the pressures they face as they define their identity.  I even pray for the bus driver, and the ways in which he is the guardian of our children, even if only for a couple of hours a day.

I imagine there are opportunities for expanding prayer for all of us in everyday life.  Where have you found yourself worryingly praying for a loved one?  Who in their immediate field can you pray for too:  their coworkers, teammates, doctors and nurses?  Who are the shepherds who need your prayers too:  their bosses, coaches, ministers?  This week, in your prayers, I invite you to let your prayers expand – fan out a little further than the immediate concern on your heart.  Observe how your fanning prayers expand something inside of you too:  a larger worldview, a bit more compassion, a lot more empathy.  Then, maybe add an action:  send a note to someone, make a phone call, send a text.  I would love to hear how your expanding prayers and actions help expand your experiences with the sacred.