This world. This place. This life.

Standing in the need of prayer

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We’re back from the first of our October adventures, and will leave for the second early, early Saturday morning.

My sweetie had a wonderful time in Tanzania–and it was also the hardest trip she’s ever taken.  She came home with thousands of photos, and a face that lights up every time she talks about elephants, giraffes, warthogs and impalas.  But she also came down with the flu about three days into the trip.

About once a day I got an email update while they were gone.  When I got the email that told me that she had a fever of over 100, my anxiety went through the roof.  I felt incredibly powerless being so far away, with so little opportunity to communicate with her.

I had to admit that it was me, me, me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

I emailed a few of my friends, some who know my partner, some who don’t.  Here’s what I said:


Hi, friends.  I wrote recently that one of the toughest things about being a non-theist is the absence of prayer.  The most I believe these days is that we are all a part of an interdependent web, and that perhaps our positive thoughts and intentions might somehow vibrate out into that network of interconnections.

You all are a mixed group, with diverse beliefs about prayer.  But I like to ask for whatever it is you do–on behalf of my partner and her family (mom, dad, sister), who are in Mwanza, Tanzania, on safari.  She emailed me earlier this evening to report that she has a fever of over 100, which is really high for her.  Needless to say, I’m worried.  And the only thing I can do is reach out to you, and ask you to think good thoughts on her behalf.

Thank you for being the kind of friends of whom I can make this strange request!


A beautifully diverse range of responses flowed into my inbox.  Some prayed, some went for walks on her behalf, some offered caring thoughts.   In asking for help, I learned more about the spiritual lives of my friends.  I felt closer to each of them, and their support helped me endure a several-day stretch when my partner was out of email contact (right after telling me she was really sick!).

When she got home, I told my partner about the network of support I’d enlisted.  She said, “Well, it must have done something, because I was able to enjoy my time in the Serengeti, even though I had a 101-degree fever.”

I have no idea how any of this “works.”  But I’m glad she’s home, and I’m grateful for love of friends who helped cope with what seemed link an interminable wait for her return.

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