Prayer Ain’t Nothing But the Blues — Wide Awake

Staff_McDermott, TomIt was almost 2:00 am, a chilly August night in the mountains of Prescott, Ark., and the five of us were lying on our backs on the cool tennis court above camp. This was an annual event for us — Woody, me, Tammy, Dontell, Jim, and Cat. The two camp musicians and some older campers and a counselor or two. Woody and I had been doing this for several years, every second week of August, always around the middle of the camp week when the Perseid meteor shower would be at its peak. Eventually, we started inviting others to sneak out in the middle of the night and join in.

Cat, an older teen, was the newest member to our gang of gazers. It was her first year at camp and the hospital staff was concerned she might not make it given the proximity of her brain surgery to the camp date and the severity of her prognosis. But everyone knew how important it was for her to be there, so they agreed to set up the camp med station with the equipment she’d need for ongoing treatments. There was no escaping the fact that the reality of her prognosis cast a somber tone to the night’s stargazing. As much as she wanted to be at camp, it had been a difficult week for her.

stargazingWe stared into the night silently pulling the blanket of stars in close. Woody started to say something, but his words were suddenly lost when a brilliant flash filled the sky as a giant fireball arced across our view!

Everyone chimed in with astonishment. “Wow!” “That’s wild!”

And then there was nothing. For several minutes even. We thought maybe we’d missed the big night.

We looked over at Cat who was smiling, kind of desperately, as she scanned the sky for another telltale sign of hope. “Will I get to see anymore? Was that all there is?”

Her question hit us with its obvious double meaning and we all remained awkwardly silent for what seemed like a lifetime, desperate for another meteor — perhaps some of us in prayer and perhaps a couple of us thinking the lyric “If you wish upon a star . . .” and pondering the cumbersome, fearful irony of the moment.

And then Dontell burped. He belched! So deep and loud, it stunned us. And then we laughed so loud, we were afraid we’d given away our “illegal” outing and the camp director would be up the hill any moment.

A minute later Cat opened her mouth and croaked a high-pitched burp. And it was on!

We were all adding pitch-perfect tones to the night symphony until Tammy provided a showstopper, belching out the entire alphabet song in disgustingly pitch-perfect fashion! We laughed so hard, we cried. And the crying gave way to so much more laughter, we’d completely forgotten about any meteor shower.

And then, as if waiting for permission, or perhaps our full attention, the sky opened up as the Perseid began in earnest with flash after flash of streaking lights, until we were numb with wonder and delight.

We watched all night till just before dawn. Woody moaned, “Ugh! This was a bad idea — we are gonna be so tired today!”

But Cat was smiling and exclaimed, “I’m having the best day ever!”

Later that morning, Woody and I were talking about our other work at church and how we’re not really supposed to get too much into religious talk or prayer and such at camp. And he turned to me and said, “It’s all religion, isn’t it? I mean, when you think about it, prayer ain’t nothing but the Blues — wide awake!”

This Sunday we’re continuing our series, “Good Stuff for a Well-Balanced Life,” and I want to think with you about prayer. But in particular, what it means to cultivate awareness — to be wide awake. I hope you can join us . . .

Tom

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Sunday, October 16
“prayer ain’t nothing but the blues — wide awake!”
exploring the boundaries of awareness with Charme Robarts and Tom McDermott

vocalist Lisa Stovall is back with us!!

featuring the blues of T-Bone Walker and the music of Janis Ian,
James Taylor, and Ruthie Foster.

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