Picture of Janet


The Way Life Works

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Prayer is a strange thing. 


Imagine believing in the productive outcome of a form of communication that largely resides and is expressed solely in your own mind. 

We can pray outloud so others can hear our petitions, but outloud or in your head, prayer is different.

Mainly because the words and thoughts are directed to a being that exists in a realm not measurable by physics or math, or any other experimental tools we have available. 

Yeah that.

Now don’t get scared.

And don’t be thinking “wow, Janet’s gone over to the dark side” for that wouldn’t be true. 

The truth is quite the opposite.

Acknowledging the unusual nature of prayer gives me room to explore it’s realness and just as importantly, how it’s real. 

For instance, would you agree with me that we humans, we are the only ones who pray?

I love my dogs with a big chunk of my heart, and mine are very smart, like smarter than anybody else’s dogs, but as certain as I am of the unusual character of prayer, I know they don’t pray. I’m even good with an octopus being my teacher and whales playing around my paddle board, but I am pretty certain they don’t pray either. This acknowledgment holds true even in light of the receding prejudice that compares animal sentience to that of human consciousness.

I say this because I want to tell you there is value in acknowledging something we can’t understand and never will this side of Heaven and yet the lack of understanding doesn’t impact receiving the inherent bounty and benefit.

…the inherent bounty and benefit.

That’s something, isn’t it??!

Let me tell you how I know.

There are mornings, when I am just waking, when the distance from heaven to here collapses. In that ‘thinness’ of place, its easier for me to navigate the strange space that separates the natural from the supernatural and prayers spill out of my heart and mind like God is sitting across from me. 

Don’t get me wrong. I pray during the day and when I wake in a scared sweat in the middle of the night. I pray when I can’t figure out what to do and when I get so irritated at Mother I want to walk out the door for a bit. I pray when I am so grateful I don’t know how to do much but just let water leak out of my eyes in gratitude. But those mornings I am trying to tell you about… the praying is different. There is a peace and a comfort that I want to linger in, languish in the fellowship that only prayer provides and that everything to do with the peculiar state of mind that I find myself in.  

I would try to describe it.

It’s like everybody I love and have loved and still love share the ‘here’ with me but so do those I no longer hold in my arms but still in my heart and now share heaven. (Which will be my place one day.) 

But mostly, its God. 

I ‘feel’ close to Him.  

I sense his.. well I don’t know what I am sensing. He’s the one talking with me and for me, reassuring me and there is no doubt in that moment I hang on His ever thought, word, answer? He is who I want to talk to and listen to. It is He who shows me new things and renews my mind in ways that if fully awake I don’t  have access to.

I have information that I am not the only one who relies on a place of thinness. 

My dad was a fisherman. He didn’t care much for sport fishing. I could have guessed that his love for the activity was the comfort of sound as the water gently lapped against his John boat. Or maybe it was the gaining of wisdom of how to fish. I suspected for a while it was the special solitude. He would tell me one day that he hoped that he ‘went on’ while he was on the water, his pole in the water with a minnow on the end. He was detailing his thin place, the one where God surely sat next to him or inside his head and they talked. 

So it was yesterday morning, the 16 year anniversary of my Jake’s heart stopping its beating and I was praying. Where Jake is I am not entirely sure. (This is another one of those things that remains rather murky for us Christians. There is talk of Paradise if you follow what Jesus told the thief on the cross (one really needs to understand what Jesus’ actual word choice meant to those listening, because my current understanding is that was NOT precisely the heaven we will all get when Jesus comes back) or maybe we go to the Bosom of Abraham, (which I have NO idea what that means.) What I do know is that I still love Jake just as much, his love is still in my heart, and he is still… well somehow who God made him.  We could argue that its the memory of him I am holding on to, the moments of time he left with others,  but there is a knowledge that comes from inside me that there’s a whole lot more to each of us than the body we inhabit here. It’s like I know that SB still loves me. 

Love, true love is forever and God the author.

So there I was, in my own little thin place, and while I can hardly stand missing ole Jake and the realization how different my life has become since he went on to Paradise or the Bosom, whatever, I realized that God and I were talking about just how grateful I am that Jake was my son. I had pure joy. I was happy. Because of the fact that Jake was and is my son.

You know what I am saying right? I am describing that peace that makes no sense. The reassurance that comes from God, that I don’t really understand, but is undeniable. Don’t get me wrong, I can still call up the purest aches over these last years and it can bring me to my knees. But it’s that very knowledge that makes that moment with God yesterday so… impossible but real. And it serves me well when that state of mind evaporates as a new day starts for me. 

I have one thing left to say. If this sounds a bit crazy, I don’t really have explanations that might dispel that opinion. (Unless you stand with me that life here is more than math and predictable chemistry. And you believe in love.) The thing I do have to say is that this relationship with God I am describing, it didn’t happen overnight. There’s been a lot of .. well let’s just call it living and surviving over several decades. God and I have been working together for a very long time. The times when we didn’t, I have to take the responsibility. Turns out He has kept His promise. He’s always there. 

Wishing whoever reads this, that you find your own thin place. It will put the joy, joy, joy down in your heart. Impossibly so.

Credits: Brett Borgard, charcoal, for better images of his work go here; Dr. Lisa Dsouza (you know why).

26 Responses

    1. Ahh Maia, how time has flown. Thank you for always being so supportive. I wish you and your family many many blessings. Enjoy the holidays coming up!

  1. Oh, how I loved reading this from you. Sharing our thoughts and then writing our words helps others to relate to what is in your heart…and possibly ours.
    I know about that collapse when God seems to be right there with me, and I actually “feel” and sense His hand on my back as He leads me forward. At these times, I feel like we are right there together and then it goes, only to return again. Thankful and so grateful to know Jesus is with us and we can have that special and loving relationship with him always.

  2. God and I sometimes talk about just how grateful I am that Jake is my friend. <3

    Just the other day, I was attending the football game in College Station cursing that I still had what felt like at least 15 more flights of stadium ramp to walk up to in the sweltering heat to get to our seats (with 4 complaining children in tow), and I turned my head east and saw the exact spot that Jake and I parked in his red car one night in, with Gary Allen playing on the radio as we waited for the rain to let up so we could run to the Corp dorms. And I smiled. And I continued to look out East for that parking spot each time I rounded that ramp and that ramp (and those complaining kids) seemed so much more bearable. And God was there to connect me and Jake right back to those moments. God is good like that. ❤️ Wish I could hug your neck tonight, Mrs. Siefert. Love you much.

    1. You touch me with each memory of Jake. I remember so vividly he telling me about you when yall first met. I wish I could get your hug. 😉 Love you back!

  3. I honestly have only experienced “the distance from heaven and earth collaps[ing], that ‘thinness’ of place,” a few times in my life and I could never have explained, described or come anywhere close to relaying the experience but you however have nailed it. Thank you!

    1. Monica, you are a wonderful and intelligent friend, a gift from this new venture we are all on at the library. love hearing your opinion and thoughts. Thank you.

  4. Janet, I always receive an interesting insight, or unique perspective when I get to step inside your life for a moment and walk with you. You ask just the right questions to stir thoughts I didn’t know I had that cause me to stop and reflect. Thank you for sharing the precious pieces of your heart with us. ❤️

    1. Thank you Gail. We are a long way from Oak Hill aren’t we. I really appreciate keeping up with you and your husband through Facebook. You and your family are an inspiration.

  5. Janet, thank you for your insight and the love you shared. I love your description of the thinness of that moment of clarity. God be with you.

    1. Ah Debra, so nice of you to take the time to comment. And thank you for reading. It is really good to hear from you.

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so well. I believe most of us who have lost a son or daughter have many times given way to our own feelings of regret or remorse questioning at best, did I do the right things. Well the answer is “No, not always” – only God is perfect, but because of His mercy and grace, he forgives and forgets, but never, never forsakes us! My time with the Lord often brings tears and joy at the same time. It is difficult to explain, but I know God understands me.
    We adopted 2 children as I was unable to conceive. Thankful to be a mother and know the love of a child! God is Love and there is no greater love.

    1. What a blessing you are to those two children of yours. And thank you, Betty for sharing your story with me. God is love, indeed. Tears and joys. YES!

  7. Oh so lovely, Janet. Thank you for your carefully chosen words. It’s wonderful to hear you share vulnerably from your heart and to know another sister who feels Jesus near.
    My absolute necessity each morning (after grabbing a cup of coffee) is to sit on a few cushions in a special corner of my bedroom looking out at a pretty backyard. With life traumas of the last few years, sometimes breathing deeply is all I can manage…but more often I end up with prayer and scripture. But first, a hymn. Most often:
    “I come to the garden alone while the dew is fresh on the roses and He walks with me and He talks to me and He tells me I am His own… And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.” So true! So real! I can see His robe, His sandaled feet. He turns and looks at me. Reaches his hand for me.
    He’s so near, so dear and yet so unique to each of us. Our rabbi is our healer and even more so our True Love. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words.

    1. Lori, thank you for your support and the witness you describe. Music must be one of the finest, most brilliant gifts God has give us. And that hymn supports it! God bless you,.

  8. Janet, you are blessed to have such a close relationship with God. He is obviously your strength and healer. You have reminded me of the power of prayer and that He never leaves us no matter how messed up we are. Keep sharing your gift with us.

  9. You did it again Janet. Reading this first thing in the morning with my coffee really lifted me up in so many ways.
    I think of you and SB ever day in my nightly prayers.
    Knowing you has helped me so much the past 5 years.
    thank you

    David & Kazel

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