I spent last week on an island in Maine, one with try few inhabitants. Sitting on the deck, looking out to sea, I could hear wind and surf, the rustling of leaves, and, off in the distance, the tolling of a soft, deep bell.
That bell was attached to a gong buoy, and took the place of a lighthouse that had been decommissioned. The gentle tolling of the buoy as it rocked on the waves served to warn ships that they were approaching a rocky coast, even when darkness or fog made it impossible to see. The bell was a gentle guardian, a shepherd for the people of God.
I was thinking about that this morning at prayer. Day after day, faithful people around the world hold those they love in prayer. They name those who are well, those who are in pain, those who have been in the news, and those who have no one else to pray for them. Their prayers — our prayers — are like that bell: distant, gentle, always there, surrounding God’s people with love and protection and care, guiding them even when they do not know where to turn.
Take a moment to give thanks for all the people who pray for you, for all those whose gentle guidance has led your in paths of graciousness. Take a second moment to remember someone who needs that grace now. Help them to be less alone, even if they cannot see it.