We stood outside the church and talked about life in a general way, relying heavily on each other’s imaginations to fill in and flesh out the truth. Our chief hurts were concerning others, and their stories weren’t ours to tell. At least not yet. Maybe one day, they will be like waters gone by, and easily remembered. But not today. Today they are like the walls in front of us, impenetrable and hard, looming over, blocking the light.

“Why, why are you so anxious?” I asked the question out loud, but to myself.

“Oh, I can tell you why!” Kimberly answered comically. “I’ve got a list!”

Laughing weakly, I imagined us neatly pinning our lists to the walls that we beat our heads against. A lot of good that will do us. This is heavy lifting. This is work for Jesus— and he tarries.

Just a few days before, I had been on holiday at the sea with friends. We must’ve looked every bit as appreciative as we were, as we hauled it to the lighthouse door.

“In all my years here, I’ve never seen three girls more eager to climb them steps,” the keeper said.

We were eager, as if we ran to see The Good News itself, coming home, at last.

When you’ve prayed about something for so long, it’s easy to start thinking you’ve done it wrong. Although I can improve my life and prayers, for sure, God is not waiting for an ideal formula or susceptible to my manipulation. And especially in the case of anxiety over someone else’s sin or troubles, and not our own, we have to accept it as a thorn in the side, a crook in the lot, something to be endured. Watching the horizon is hard, but that’s what light-keepers do.

Mrs. Alice held my hands in hers.

“She’s bossed me around all my life!” her sister yelled from the other room.

“And she hasn’t yet gone astray,” Mrs. Alice whispered.

“Let me tell you something right quick, Sarah. I don’t know what’s weighing on you, sweet girl, but you got two things to do. Only two things. You gotta love and keep on loving, and you gotta pray. That’s it.”

“None of your prayers will come weeping home,” my sister said, quoting a Puritan, who may in fact have been quoting his sister.

Maybe it will get better in this life, and maybe it won’t. But someday, all God’s fitful children will sigh deeply and turn over in their beds, straining their ears for trouble and hearing none, they will remember that it is no more, and smiling into the pillow, they will sleep like the faithful lovers of the shipwrecked come home.


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