“One must’ve passed through the tunnel, to understand how dark its blackness is.” -St. Therese the Little Flower


She has never been here before.  She steps out around the crunchy leaves and heads down by a tree where a little creek trickles by.  She can hear the sound of giggling up the hill. She knows those voices.  Her three sons.  The oldest one laughs and giggles in light rhythmic catches and is contagious.  The middle one laughs silently most of the time, and the youngest–his laugh is hearty and full bodied.  They are too far up the hill, but it echos and she knows they are there.  Far but not too far.

She is dragging it behind her.  The rope is tattered, and some of her prayer flags are hanging on by a thread.  They used to be bright.  Now they’re faded. Many are torn.  There are so many, and it’s heavy but she carries them behind her.  She has dropped everything else on the way.  But still can’t seem to drop them.  She will keep them with her even if she is just dragging them.

She remembers when she used to keep them hung from her as a badge of honor.  As a little girl she would stare at the statues on the church and she knew them.  She never doubted God.  She would pray for a life of martyrdom. She would die a death of Glory.  Even as she was bullied in grade school, her hair pulled, yelled at, by little girls in blue uniforms.  She would cry at night, and pray that God would love them better. When she was called a “Dog” after her picture appeared in the paper, she cried, but knew real Beauty was in the sound of her mother playing the piano, in the way her little sister twirled her hair, and in the woman in blue who prayed for her.  The Mother of God, Mary.

She never doubted God’s love.  Not when she didn’t have friends.  Not when friends died.  Not when her heart was broken.  She went and curled up in bed, and found comfort in the only thing that was constant…Her Faith. Her Jesus.

This carried her.  As each year passed more prayers were added.  So many colors, deep and beautiful.  Her favorite was the color of the sky, like a blue robins egg, and it glistened in the sun.  When she was married a white one was added, pure and absolutely beautiful, with each child another prayer flag more beautiful than the next was added and hung from the beautiful strong rope.  The rope was so strong, just like her faith. Even during the heartbreaking prayers.  The prayers of not understanding, the prayers of grief.  She wrapped her prayers for her angel baby in pink, and her prayers brought her hope. Enough hope to add two more, a royal blue and one the color of glitter.

Years passed.  She was strong.  And her prayers were too.  Everyday she walked, them wrapped around her and there he was. Right next to her. Her Jesus.

And then one day he wasn’t.

The sky changed that day.  It was just grey.  She waited for him.  She talked to him.  And it was silent.

It had never been silent before. So she waited. She knew there must be a lesson. She started a woman’s prayer group, and waited.  He was with others, but she didn’t see him.  A month went by.  Then two.

She needed him there.  A loved one was so sick.  She was caring for another loved one.  She had failed at going back to school and felt lost in her own life. Her kids were getting bigger and she felt out of sorts. She was terrified, and she had never been in this place before.  She plead.  Silence.  She sat quiet.  Silence.  And then she noticed the prayer flags weren’t as bright as they used to be, in fact they were really worn.

…More Silence.

She told her husband.  He talked about the desert.  He talked about it being normal, that everyone with great faith goes through this.  But she couldn’t see why she’d had to go through it, right then.  She needed.  She begged. She waited.

Some of the flags were beginning to tear.  It had been a harsh winter.  So much grey.  Some of them were dirty and so thin.  She still wrapped herself in them every morning and carried them through out the day, but they had become heavy.

She didn’t remember them being heavy before.

The loved one passed away.  The other loved one got sicker, and she didn’t know what to do. A parent was ill and had lost everything.  The nights were darker.  She folded up with a sorrow so great she couldn’t remember a time when any new prayer flags were added. It had been so long ago.

There was one weekend, where she saw a glimspe of him. She talked at a retreat and she saw his hand on the women, when she spoke she knew he was blessing her words but as soon as she got in the car, wrapped tightly in the hope that He was back.  But all she saw was desert.  She had never been so alone.

It had been a year since she heard him, next to her.

She became angry.  She stopped wanting to attend Church.  She hadn’t slept in months. Her guilt. Her failures. Her shame in her body and who she had become.  She felt like she didn’t fit anywhere any more.   And the sky had become black. Her prayer flags were torn and faded, and her heart was shattered.

Then a woman disappeared from Portland, and everyone didn’t know where she was.  She was a Mom, a Wife, she was loved. Everyone was concerned, and even more so when they saw why she was gone.  But the darkness had swallowed this woman. And everyone said they couldn’t understand how she could…

But she could, because it was so dark. Because sometimes that seemed easier.  So she made calls.  And she grabbed her prayer flags, tears streaming down her broken face and began to walk.

First steps…telling people she wasn’t ok.  Admitting that the flags had gotten heavy and she needed help.  Her husband came and and helped her carry them and they walked together. Her Mom came and carried them, even HIS Mother was there. They walked behind her talking.  She found out that She had been there the whole time, praying with her Mother. Which made so much sense…the Mom never really leaves.  They stay by, even if in spirit.   For the first time in a while, she felt hope. Everything the Mother of God does points to him…so he couldn’t be far.

Next she found herself at a healing ministry.  Weighted down by the flags, she collapsed in the chair, and cried. For a solid hour.  Went through an entire box of tissues. Cried and Grieved the Silence, the guilt, and left knowing that if others could still hear him she someday would.

After that… She got help.  Some people call it therapy.  For her is was a life line, and after she left the first time the flags were still worn and torn, but they weren’t as heavy.  After her third session she got a diagnosis of PTSD, but she wasn’t scared. She just knew what she needed to beat.

Days went by.  She was getting better. She began to sleep again.  Sometimes she thought about the silence, but most of the time life had filled in the spots and light had began to seep through the cracks.  Sometimes she wondered if she was faking her faith but she realized she believed, even with the silence…she knew the truth.  She read her bible, and prayed with her Children.

And one day…she was driving…five hours North for her Dads third heart surgery in three months, and it happened. She was driving through a valley.  The sun was bright.  She just began to speak- and suddenly He was there. Her Jesus.

And She blinked and she was where she began.  Her prayer flags dragging as her hands clung to the rope.  The leaves crunched under her feet and she could hear the laughter in the distance.  Her boys.  She decided to step into the creek, and her pray flags began to shine brightly. Maybe a little torn, but the color was there, glistening.  She wrapped her prayers tighter around her, and began to follow the laughter. 

As she drove so much talking. Nonstop.  So much to hear. About Strength in brokenness. About Worthiness.  So much to fill all the empty cracks, he left some places broken, but her heart began to fill with a peace that had been missing for a year.  All the dark corners were lit up brightly.

At the top of the hill, was a gate, it was metal and heavy.  Her boys were on the other side but sitting on it was her daughter and she leapt out into her arms…into my arms.  She wore a beautiful glittery dress, and her Dad, My Love pushed open the gate. I spent a year outside of it, waiting to be let back in, but it was never locked.  My flags billowed behind me, shining…and I set my daughter down.  She ran to her brothers who laughed in the light.  I wrapped my prayers around me, and I took my Loves hand and we walked through together.  Towards their lights. And My Jesus.

“Be confidant of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on you to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Phillipians 1’6

And here we are…after my initial tissue emptying prayer session, I went back two months later. This story came to me, and another Person during the healing ministry.  They coincided perfectly, during our own moments of silence.  One thing that stood out for both of us, were these tattered prayer flags…That even in my own blackness, my own dark night of the soul, I still carried my prayers.  I carried them even on the darkest days.  I carried my prayers, your prayers.  I carried them with me.