the prayer beads in the junk drawer


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My father-in-law started chemotherapy yesterday. His cancer, which was gone for a little while, has come back. It’s a familiar story for a lot of people, unfortunately, but when it happens to someone you love, it is so totally a new agony.

I’ve been thinking about how to pray for him. I have not come up with any good answers, so I mostly just beg. But I came across some prayer beads the other day when I was rifling through our junk drawer. (Please don’t tell God that I was keeping them there.) My church had given them to me upon my graduation from graduate school last year. I had appreciated the gesture, but it wasn’t my thing, so into the junk drawer they went. Then, this Sunday, the current graduates at church were given their own little red bags in which I knew strings of prayer beads were nestled. I thought about my lonely little beads. I thought about my search for solitude and ways to pray. I decided to make them my thing, at least for a trial run.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ll also try and respond to the Facebook thing sometime soon. I love what you wrote. Most of the time, I really love Facebook because it gives me adults to “talk to” in the middle of the day when all of the adults are at work and I’m reading Barney’s Color Surprise to Miles for the fifteenth time in a row. (The sun is yellow, you guys. Still. Sorry to ruin the surprise.) But I understand the complexities, too, and I like the conclusion you came to.


18 thoughts on “the prayer beads in the junk drawer

  1. I am so utterly sorry that your family is dealing with this. Every morning after Rusty goes to work, I read the lectionaries passages to Lily and then “we” pray. Your father in law has been on our list since we moved. So maybe, when you don’t know how or what to pray, you can rest a little knowing that others ate surrounding you all with prayers that you can’t find the words for.

  2. Katie, I have no words. I didn’t know you and Scott were dealing with this, and I am sorry. I am interested to hear about your experience with the prayer beads. I’ve never used them either.


  3. Another way to use prayer beads is to drop them one at a time into a bag or a container….when your bag is full…start over again…..I know how you feel, Rick is constantly on our minds. Vonnie too!

  4. Pingback: not knowing what to say | [writing] between friends

  5. Katie, when I read this I had a flashback to when I found out my (and Maria’s) grandma’s cancer had returned. Sorry to hear about your father-in-law. May the treatment work this time and forever be history!

    • Carmen,
      Thanks so much for the sentiment! I have heard about your grandmother’s cancer from Maria. It sucks. Thanks for sharing in the heartache with me.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear of all that your family is going through Katie. There are no words. I am saying a prayer for God-breathed joy and inexplicable peace for all of you. Love you

  7. katie- sorry to hear the cancer is back. i can relate to the prayer thing. i went through a similar experience when j’s dad was diagnosed with leukemia and went through chemo. not knowing what to pray, i would just selfishly beg for him not to die. i found comfort in knowing God knows what is in our heart and knows our words, even if we cannot put them together. love you, friend. praying for peace, clarity and health for you and the family.

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