Palm Sunday, April 13

by Peter St. Onge

On my first day as a news reporter, I was sent to a neighborhood in Huntsville, Alabama, where a tornado had touched down the previous night. No one was killed in the storm, but the tornado had destroyed more than a dozen homes before leaping back up into the sky.

I walked from yard to yard that next morning, talking to whoever would talk to me. One woman chatted for a few moments, then told me she’d rather not see her name in the newspaper. I didn’t want to just walk away, so I asked: “What are you going to do next?”

She didn’t hesitate. “Well, I’ll pray,” she said.

I didn’t think much of it then, but in the years since, my job has introduced me to many people facing the challenges life brings: a couple whose house had been swept away by the Tar River in eastern North Carolina; an elementary school teacher in Arkansas heading back to her first day at work since a school shooting; men and women facing sudden unemployment or a frightening diagnosis.

Each of them and so many others have talked to me about praying, and I’ve come to realize that they did so not only to ask for something, but to remind themselves of the peace that comes with faith.

“Well, I’ll pray,” that woman said long ago, standing in her front yard. I understand better now, through challenges in my own life, of the peace that comes with praying, and the strength that comes with peace.

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