There are seasons in life when things are just hard. It could be emotionally, financially, spiritually, or any of the many factors that affect us. We can probably all think of a time when we’ve thought “Can’t anything go right for me?” In these times we have our coping mechanisms- our supports that help us get through. We may scroll through Facebook, turn on the T.V, call mom, or eat a whole package of cookies. If you’re anything like me, prayer usually ends up further down the list, once I’ve tried a few things and still feel drained and empty. And even when we do pray, we sometimes lack the belief that prayer will actually change anything.
It was during such a season that I ended up at the beginning of August praying for “one good thing”. It had been a hard summer with multiple losses and unexpected challenges and it felt like hope was too distant a thing to grasp. And even as things settled down, I invoked the “one good thing” prayer a few more times before I noticed that it had been answered. Thankfully, it wasn’t the only good thing that’s happened in the last couple of months, but this one good thing was clearly God’s answer to my prayer.
This one good thing began on one of the days that I did my community outreach shift in the Waterloo Village area of town. On Wednesdays, members from various organizations in the neighbourhood go out in pairs to walk around and talk to people. The idea to do this emerged from the observation that there were people in the neighbourhood who clearly need help but who aren’t walking through to doors of our respective organizations to get it. So, as representatives of these organizations, we go out, in big yellow vests (the joke is that NASA called to say that they can see us) and meet people where they are.
On this particular shift I was paired up with Erin Cortes, the program director for Sophia House. The Sophia Recovery Centre is a place for women to go who are recovering from addictions. As Erin and I got to know each other, we discussed the need for God in the recovery process. Erin expressed that she would like to have more of a spiritual element for the women who attend programs at the Centre. We met with the director the next week and soon had plans for a 6 week program on prayer and spirituality.
As I write this, we just finished the 4th week of this program. We’ve had 8 women attend faithfully. And we’ve discussed our experiences with spirituality and prayer. We’ve looked at ways to pray including journaling, prayer through art, using the Psalms, and using prayer beads (the Old English word bede actually means prayer, showing that prayer beads have a long standing tradition in the Church). Over the next couple of weeks we’ll look at praying with music and going on prayer walks. Each week we talk about where and how we’ve encountered God and where God seemed absent. Many of the women have little to no religious background and for some praying has been an entirely new experience. The group is amazingly diverse, open, engaged and absolutely wonderful!
They have been my “One Good Thing” and since they asked for the group to extend passed the six week mark, I may have something good for a while yet to come.
By Jasmine Chandra