I’ve never asked for a handout in my entire life. The child of middle-class parents, I always had food and a comfortable room, and even if I didn’t have all the trinkets my richer friends had, I never felt the need to beg for anything — until now.
Don’t get me wrong. I am still incredibly fortunate when it comes to material things because we have a larder that is quite full and a lovely home. What I find myself begging for now has nothing to do with the stuff money can buy.
Instead, I am slowly becoming what may be best described as a prayer beggar.
It seems that every time I turn around, I am beseeching friends for spiritual help. First it was my mother-in-law falling into dementia and a few months of nonstop emergencies as my husband and I scrambled to provide for her care.
We begged friends for prayers, and they certainly took up the slack because we were quite astonished at how quickly things fell into place. Before too long, she was comfortably ensconced in a nearby nursing home, where, miracle of miracles, she actually enjoys the meals — and we are able to visit her much more frequently than when she lived out of town.
As we were breathing a huge sigh of relief, another emergency hit us squarely on the head. This time, it was a shoulder injury that my husband brought about unwittingly while exercising.
For nearly three months, he has been in pain, and has tried nearly everything to overcome it. Because he can barely use one arm, I have stepped up to the proverbial plate and become his right arm, which is something new for me, to put it mildly.
To say he has spoiled me over our 31 years of marriage would be an understatement, since this is a man who has always insisted on doing his own laundry, plus some of the grocery shopping and all of the cooking.
Over the years, he has become quite a gourmet chef — but since cooking is not something you can easily do with one arm, we are now limping along with me as chief cook and bottle washer. At this point, I can make a pretty good omelet and wrestle a chicken into the oven, and that’s about it.
As we are praying for his healing, I am again reduced to the status of a beggar, sticking my hand out and saying, “Help!” Fortunately, one thing I’ve noticed about prayers is no one turns me down.
I have never had someone say, “Oh, gosh, if you had just called yesterday, I would have said yes, but today I’m all out.” I’ve never had someone say, “You should be ashamed of yourself for begging again! Didn’t I just pray for you last month?”
I feel fortunate that no one keeps tabs on how often I beg them for prayers. If they did, I fear I’d be considered a ne’er-do-well who constantly has her hand out.
I do know one thing, though: I’m not too proud to beg. After all, prayers work, and without my friends — and readers — beseeching heaven for me, I would be utterly and hopelessly lost.
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Columnist Lorraine V. Murray is the author of two mysteries set at a small parish in Decatur: “Death in the Choir” and “Death of a Liturgist.” Her third mystery will be published in the fall. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.