Week One Prompt: When you pray, move your feet.

Stars

At night when I was little, my mum told me that if I wanted to pray, I had to get out of bed, bow my head, clasp my hands together, and kneel. “To show respect”, she would say when I protested. It wouldn’t be proper to just lie there making a lazy sign of the cross, doing it as quickly as possible so that your arms weren't out from under the covers for very long. She would take my hands and help me make the sign until I knew how to do it myself, tiny hands clumsy in their motions but, like wine, improving with age.
 
Dad would tuck me in sometimes, because he didn’t get to see me much otherwise, and he would sit on my bed and fold my hair behind my ears. “May flights of angels sing you to your rest,” he would say. I thought my dad was some kind of poet; I didn’t know he had borrowed the words from Shakespeare, just like I didn’t know that line was really about death. I just loved the images that sprung to mind, images of angels too bright and beautiful to look at, their voices so light you could barely hear them singing you to sleep.
 
When my grandma died and dad spoke at the funeral, he used the line, our line, asking the angels to sing his mum to her eternal rest, and I remember crying so hard I could barely see the rest of the day.
 
As I got older, I would still say my prayers, but to me, praying wasn’t about bending your head and clasping your hands together anymore. Instead, I would open my curtain and stare up at the stars, imagining that I could see it all (life, death, the universe, and everything). I believed that on quiet nights, with nothing above me but the black sky dotted with sacred silver fire, I had a direct line to heaven.
 
“Hello, God? This is me. I just wanted to say hello.”
 
I imagined I had an answer, that somehow the clouds formed words and I could have read them maybe, only I didn’t speak their language.
 
Years later, I spoke those same words at my best friends funeral. That night, something inside me stirred. I sat up, fumbling with the covers that were too heavy all of a sudden, pushing them off me til I felt the chill. I pulled back my curtains, looked up at the sky, and knelt down as a sign of respect. I began to pray. That night, there were no clouds. There was nothing but the sky above me and the soft earth outside my window, milky white in the moonlight. The stars were fuzzy pinpricks of light and I squinted up at them through my tears. Inexplicably, I smiled. There, laid out in the sky in diamonds (just like the bling she’d always loved), was her name.
 
That night, I didn’t need the clouds to give me an answer. I had mine.
 
She was home. 

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53 thoughts on “Week One Prompt: When you pray, move your feet.

  1. very lovely! I especially liked “that somehow the clouds formed words and I could have read them maybe, only I didn’t speak their language”. thanks for sharing this.

    • Yes! I had never looked at it that way before until I watched Hamlet (the one with Mel Gibson) when I was about 10 and realised what it was about. Such a sad but thoughtful line, full of the hope those left behind have. Thanks for your comment x

  2. She would take my hands and help me make the sign until I knew how to do it myself, tiny hands clumsy in their motions but, like wine, improving with age.

    I remember watching my mom do this with my younger brothers.

  3. This brings back so many memories…I was taught to kneel by the side of my bed, make the sign of the cross, then point my hands in prayer. That never stopped me from lying in bed and continuing the prayer, though.

    One of my very favorite things to do now is to go outside, gaze at the sky/clouds/moon/stars and send a mental prayer. It seems to make my prayers stronger, as though God is really listening to me.

    Beautiful imagery, especially the Shakespeare quote 🙂

    • What beautiful compliments! I’m so sorry I’m getting back to you so late – I have had the week from some place worse than hell. Thank you so much for taking to time to read and comment it means so much to me 🙂

    • I know 😦 It speaks so much about the hope those left behind have. “may flights of angels..sing you to your rest..” It’s what we hope death is like for the people we love who have left us.
      Thanks so much for commenting, I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you. *smacks life*

  4. Whirly! I read this before and I kind of knew where it came from and it made me ache and I had to go away and sniffle a bit before coming back and telling you how much I love it. It’s just filled with gorgeous images and words and …

    I miss your writing so much – so glad you’re doing this and I get to read your writing over time. I’m also glad you are doing this because it’s introduced me to so many other writers as well. *hugs* and best of luck.

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