I had a heavy day. A transgender student told me he was getting texts from an unknown source telling him that he was a freak. Another student showed me a mark that her dad left on her arm when he was trying to explain to her the importance of her math grade by tossing her around a bit. I did not know what to do about either instance. I felt totally hopeless.
Then a student caught me not praying. I used to pray without ceasing, seriously. Now, I think of my life as a prayer. How I choose to live each moment is an answer to God’s gift of life. But I do not plug in consciously as much as I used to and really listen. Until today. When I asked a student I had last year how she was doing, she said, “Actually, I am really glad I ran into you. Could you pray for my cousin?” Tears welled up immediately, which threw me since she is a tough, stoic hockey player not keen on public displays of vulnerability and emotion. Her cousin, a high school junior, was just diagnosed with stage three cancer. She was sad and scared. When I hugged her, she clung. But then I looked at her and answered, “Yes. I can pray for her. I will pray without ceasing. Keep me updated.” It is a mystery, prayer. But somehow there is power in it, and somehow my heart is changed when a student trusts me to pray for her about something so vulnerable and petrifying. I cannot make it better, but I can pray. And pray I will.