Stark lettering black on white and white on black. Simple square message. One for each direction of Highway. Two words. Facing north, facing south. They stick out of the ground on a lonely stretch of road. An invitation.
Life altering potential. Beckoning hundreds of motorists to pray.
Two words stir the soul. Prayer Mile.
For one man the invitation to enter into prayer was perfectly timed.
A man in need of healing touch. In need of hope. Wheels rolling down a lonely stretch of highway. Alone. A dog, beloved pet, the passenger, appears to be at the end of life needing relief from pain. A broken heart.
And like childrens’ dominoes when tapped touch all in their serpentine path, the man, the dog, the sign touch.
And a teacher.
She tells her high school children the story. Of her beloved pet on the way to the vet to be euthanized. No hope. Just the need for the pain to stop and for mercy to be delivered. She tells of the class of the man, the prayer and the dog. Restored to life for now. New hope.
And she tells her class that all their life, all their marriage, all this time she’d never known him to go with her to church, to read scriptures, to pray. Never.
A man, a sign, two words, an invitation. Hope restored.
And the high school class hears the story of a man stirred to pray. A lesson not taught often, not heard often, held up rarely. In school, in life. She asks him what brings this restored health. What does the vet say. Our dog is going to be fine for now. He tells her of the sign and his prayers. She tells the class.
The man, the woman, the dog, the children, and I have been touched by the Prayer Mile sign. Because God can use anything he chooses to break through to us in the everyday. The lonely road stretches of life.
And words can deliver life or death. Words matter a lot.
The words I choose can bring encouragement, hope, joy, goodness, calm, hope, and peace. But how often do they bring criticism and hurt instead. A small aside, a withheld compliment, a sarcastic tone deliver sting like the nettles from the sea. Like salt in a wound that is already there, an added word or malice rubs raw and burns the soul.
I pick up my keys and head out the door, delivering a motherly request to take out the dog as soon as she eats. And beautiful rearview mirror picture, obedience. He’s running leash and dog fast and happy down the road. I grin and know that I will tell him, well done.
Later words go back and forth in debate, discussion, disagreement. And I remind,you were told how proud I was of you. Mom, you sent me a text message. My message of encouragement fell flat. Eyes should have met, and words carrying breathe and life should have breathed my love, encouragement and joy at such rapid compliance. A boy, a dog, and a chore. A missed opportunity for words to bless.
He walks in the door, first words bookend long day. Deflated, disappointed. Not what I hoped for not want I longed for. They hang in the air. Dog ate trash and more. I want different. I want life breathing restorative words that tell of hope and longing and love. That bring sparkle and glitter and splattering of happy.
But the lonely road life stretches can bring the mundane. The business of the trash and the duty. Of fatigue and work. The home can harbor the realness of living.
Hope. Healing. Joy. These are the words welcome in my home. Life giving. Restorative words. Prevailing, winning claiming victory over a lonely road.