I gaze at it through urban townhouse windows, over seas of roofs so many miles from home. I glimpse it through gazebo framing of a playground park where unknown dialects ebb and flow among ethnic faces unexpected in these suburbs.
Same sky, same heaven, spread over all.
Clouds draw back, unveil sunlight after rain and shadows, and I seek sheltered seating, while son goes following grandchild’s running romping play through tunnels, over bridges, up climbing walls, along meandering maze paths.
Three benches line a fence deflecting sunlight. I sit and breathe in rest, watch the interweaving movements of men and women following child and child, try identifying nations left for emmigration here.
She comes, stands near, as a young one, all flowing grace in fuschia tunic over vibrant white, moves drifting, to swings, and settles there to soar like lank and lovely bird in jewel-toned plumage. Granddaughter?
Two others, man and woman, tawny-skinned and in-between-aged, watch and talk with the soaring girl. She answers them in foreign tongue and speaks on a bright-white iphone fluent English.
Somehow disconnected, the older woman stands apart. Long trailing fabric folds swath her long-sleeved garment, a scarf wraps head and neck. I almost pant for her, wish her coolness, here beneath the sudden-burning heaven—same heaven spread out four hours north, to where I came from, spread out to where she came from.
She turns, comes walking to my bench retreat, ignoring empty benches, and sits, right near beside me.
I find myself near tongue-tied. But I nod a friendly greeting, say hello. She wipes the moisture from her forehead, settles back against the bench.
“It got hot.” I hear my own lame offering, and grope for something, anything, for better conversation. But does she even know my language? In her quiet answer I barely hear the syllables. And even if we share a language, words are still evading.
So I sit stiff, waiting the minutes left before we gather—mother, son, granddaughter—to exit toward the sunset. I crave a Pocket Testament, with nearly-fuschia-colored rose and Love on the white front cover—to give before I go, even in my tongue-tied state.
I have none, so I sit, and look where son last slipped from sight, watch the people, my spirit altered. At last I see him. I rise to go, turn oblique and smile toward my silent sitting-partner, say goodbye and drift away, all uncomfortable.
Same sky over all. Same God over all that sky. Same need under it all. Yet I sat silent, stiff, knowing all the methods, caring about the woman, yet held with childish shyness.
But there were two things:
From God—no words to speak, as He sometimes gives… only concern for a woman…
And prayer: Even as I sat there. And in the car, riding elsewhere. And in the evening, later. And often since. And still, right now. I pray confession, ask forgiveness, intercede for her.
And I consider: Is this but a small and ineffective thing?
I believe it: “Prayer strikes the winning blow; service simply picks up the pieces.” I saw the evidence in Africa, though my body never went. Husband traveled, I stayed home. That’s how God led. He led my spirit simply, in His Spirit, to pray. Later I saw the granted gifts He’d moved my lips to ask for—needs otherwise unknown. Prayer went power bouncing then, satellite-beam-like, off the sky-dome stretching here to there.
Same sky, same heaven, stretches over all. Same God hovers over all that sky and all that need. Same God works through it all, via the power of prayer. I rest in that… and pray.