A post to save the thoughts and prayers in the world.
While I have my opinions, I, for the most part, shy away from writing about politics or religion, which seems to eliminate many topics. I leave that for the stronger of heart. It could be said I write about life, but I think more accurately, I write about feelings associated with life. And while I don’t always write about happy topics, I try to find the positive in whatever I’m discussing. It can be a daunting task. Today is one of those days.
As our nation reels from yet another school shooting, I ask myself what I can possibly write about after this horrendous event that even remotely centers on the positive?
I know right now that the phrase “thoughts and prayers” is under attack, and rightfully so. It is a time for action in our country, not words. This post in no way takes issue with the point that many of our citizens are raising, “replace words with action.” I COMPLETELY AGREE.
But because I’m a wordsmith of sorts, I’d like to preserve the words “thoughts and prayers” for us commoners and instances when they might really send something of importance. Let’s not dump that phrase out in the bathwater, you know, the saying about the baby and the bathwater? Oh man, I always misquote the old sayings. Rick is surely shaking his head.
So, here’s my thinking, I’d like to keep that phrase alive because what is the alternative aside from no response, which might indeed be worse? We all need to believe we are supported in our most challenging times. And most people are not poets, nor do they know how to effectively communicate grief. They settle for sending phrases like “thoughts and prayers.” I also settle for the words if I’m sending it to someone I don’t know very well or at all. Here’s a recent personal story demonstrating what those simple words can mean in a bigger picture.
As I’ve mentioned, I live in a tiny town. It has one intersection of commerce, which includes a grocery store, pharmacy, optometrist, gas station, bank, flower shop, hair salon, post office, a few restaurants, a bar, dentist, and my favorite little wine tasting venue, Rosa-Lucca. I’m missing a few businesses, but you get the picture.
There is a coffee shop just as I enter the town, up a driveway to the right. A small trailer sits parked on the little lot. Welcome flags wave from the street, inviting patrons to slow down and stop in. An American flag waves proudly on a large flag pole in the center of the lot. You can drive through, pick up your coffee/food, and circle back out to the street.
While I’ve never frequented the coffee shop, I’ve heard people talking in the market about some of the great selections offered. A few months back, I’ve lost track of how many, I read a disturbing post on Nextdoor about someone’s child dying. And I will say now, before I write this, that I could be wrong on some of these facts. I never investigated. I put my ideas together based on what little I heard. And even if I am not accurate on what family lost their son, the message will still translate.
Putting what little I knew together, I felt that perhaps it was the child of the family who ran the coffee shop. The coffee shop sat quietly from that day forward, no cars driving through, no flags waving in the wind, and the American flag flying at half-mast. I sent my “thoughts and prayers” to the family each time I drove by.
Time passed. I never stopped checking in on the little shop. Then one day, I noticed a flyer on the notice board outside our Holiday Market announcing a celebration of life for an 18-year-old boy occurring the following Sunday. I stopped to read it and admired the sweet-looking young man in the photo. I had to dry my tears before I walked into the market. The following Sunday, I thought about the family sending them “thoughts and prayers.”
Time continued to pass, and the little shop showed no signs of reopening. I never stopped sending my thoughts and prayers that the grief-stricken family would find their way back to the living. And last week, on my way to Auburn, just as I was passing the driveway, I caught a glimpse of a waving flag. I slammed on my brakes (good thing I live in a little town with very little traffic).
There they were, all five or six of the welcome flags waving in the wind, and the American flag in the middle of the property no longer at half-mast. I cried all the way through the canyon, grateful for our ability to heal physically and emotionally; what a blessing that we can at times take for granted.
This family will likely never know me, nor will they know how many times I’ve sent them thoughts and prayers. I’m no one special, just one in the masses of amazing, incredible, compassionate, and loving people. Our thoughts have power, and our feelings are made of pure energy that can travel between us across the miles regardless of whether we understand how. I never underestimate the human spirit and what we are capable of.
Join me in sending thoughts and prayers to the families of the recent massacre. Let’s believe in our thoughts to help lift the victims and continue to remember them in the coming months. They will need our help.
Sue, this is eloquent. As your writing always is. And it highlights the need we each have to acknowledge the tragedies, and grieve. If enough of us do that, perhaps this can begin to erode some of the evil in our hearts.
People afraid for their children’s lives need action, however, and writing letters to our representatives in the gov’t to address this and step away from the dictates of National Rifle Association might also eventually help. We have a higher gun-related death rate than any Western country, and a higher maternal mortality rate. We need to be a society, not just a collection of individuals.
Thank you, Sallie, for your equally eloquent response! I love your suggestions and agree we need to come together as a society on this topic to create effective change.
I also often send thoughts and prayers to others and I normally stay out of politics on social media. I can no longer stay silent. I have a problem when politicians use the phrase loosely with any real meaning or emotions behind it. It is just a way of shutting people up and then hoping it blows over quickly. I will never stop praying for others but this country has to wake up. God help us all.
I agree, my friend.
Heartwarming, sympathetic, and compassionate — thank you for this Sue. Thoughts and prayers are at times the only thing one can do to reach out, whether near or far. I agree, and join you.
Thank you, Mickey.
Thank you for this reminder.
Sue, I love your writing, the love you express, the tenderness and compassion and I understand your want the save the expression, ‘thoughts and prayers” and in your case, and in this case I believe their use and rescue are warranted. But what makes those words remarkable is your context of ‘caring’ and ‘love’. It’s your intention that makes those words beneficial. We both understand that words volley in meaning over time and in context depending on their use, and ‘thoughts and prayers are like a cracked billiard ball careening unevenly, spinning sideways and spilling its pieces across the billiard table with each revolution, it’s true form oblate and damaged from continuous misuse. the GOP, NRA, fake Christians, and politicos, in general, open their ‘irresponsibility, take no action, donor class’ toolbox, every time we have a national tragedy with automatic weapons. One tool in their box is a 3×5 index card with the words ‘thoughts and prayers on one side and on the other side, the user’s manual,’ keep speaking ‘thoughts and prayers’ until a 24-hour new cycle renders the event insignificant. But take absolutely no action against the donor class, weapons manufacturers, gun rights constituents.’ The words have been constricted of life, strangled beyond recognition, limping along on life support, awaiting their final breath. If we want to change, we need actions to support those words, we need to vote out politicians who mindlessly block any discussion per the manual, and embark on actual discussions about how we create reasonable solutions. I like guns, and responsible people should be able to use them, but automatic weapons, are designed to destroy animal flesh and kill. The answer is pretty simple, vote out conflicted politicians, and make the lobbyist and manufacturers legally liable, they’ll take gun safety seriously and make sure unstable people don’t get weapons, if they know, like car companies, those who build products that are incorrectly used in criminal activity can result in legal consequences. whatever they lose in incremental sales is insurance against future legal massive implications. until then the words and the users manual should be banned from use. it’s like Pro-life, the GOP and Christians aren’t they are ProBirth only, otherwise they’d take the murder of innocents seriously and insist on responsible ‘actions’.
So sorry this reply has taken so long. I seem to have fallen down one of the pesky rabbit holes. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I completely agree with your sentiments, and hope you shared them on other platforms! Your writing is powerful, and important!
The next time we’re up there, we’re going to the coffee shop!
Sue thank you for that reminder that our thoughts and prayers are important and needed !! Thank you for your story it was very touching…
Thank you, Terri!