I have set up my access to the Geranium Farm so that the first screen I see is the candles screen in the Vigils section. It is good to spend a little time there, reading through the prayers people have left. The sorrows and worries are serious: people just bereaved, people with cancer or heart trouble or a diagnosis not yet known. People out of work. People facing divorce. People heartbroken over a child who courts danger and doesn't even know it. Lost pets. Lost faith.
And the thanksgivings among the candles are exultant: clean CT scans, impending weddings, the births of babies. New jobs. New houses. Graduations, baptisms, ordinations, confirmations.
The whole of life is offered to God in prayer on that page. There are 400 virtual candles lit, give or take a few, at any given time. Once in a while I see a name I know, or think I do. Most of the names are not familiar to me: we are strangers, those people who left their prayer intentions there and I, who read them.
But I am always struck by how little it matters that I don't know them personally. Prayer is much more than a festival of my love for someone else. God is active in it -- mysteriously, of course, since it's God: God lives and moves in prayer and I haven't a clue how, or what will happen because I have prayed. I only know something will. Something will happen first in my life, because I have entered into prayer. And in the life of the one for whom I pray, in a way I will never know. And, because there is an ecology of prayer, a connectedness, something will happen in the world itself. The very world is changed because we pray.
None of which is much like ordering a pizza -- we don't pray for something and then wait to see it we get it before we know our prayer made a difference. The difference comes first. We wait only for our power to see it.
Visit http://www.geraniumfarm.org/candles.cfm to light a virtual candle. And then stay and enjoy the Farm. The Farm's bookstore is always open, and Christmas is coming.....hint...