It’s not every day a tall Californian turns up in the road you live on. I suspect it’s even less often that such a man is offering to pray for the people on your street, for a whole year.
But that’s how, a few months ago, I made the acquaintance of a stranger on my street. Let’s call him the Prayer Man. I had heard from a friend and neighbour a week or two beforehand that he had knocked on her door posing an unusual question. Did she need any prayers for her, or the people that lived in that house. I must confess to feeling a little put out that this generous offer had not come my way yet, despite not considering myself to be a fully paid-up Christian. I was brought up a Catholic, which I realise is Christian, so I have a thorough grounding in that which I reject, and in the last year I have asked certain people to pray for others, not feeling qualified to do so myself. Still, I remember to count my own blessings, say thank you for them as often as I remember to and I do consider the power of a positive intention sent out for others to be a secular version of what others might call prayer. I am, therefore, not against prayer per se. However, I am still uncomfortable being prayed for, which was what we called intercession when I went to church as a child. The list of names of the sick and old being read out every week at mass by the priest. Some things stick in the head.
In the end, I finally met the Prayer Man, a few weeks after my friend’s encounter, on the street a few yards from my house. He was on a bike, wearing jeans, and what I might now call a Californian tan. He explained that he was praying for the street for a whole year. He was praying for people, not bricks and mortar, he could only pray for needs not wants and he asked if there was anything that I needed. I replied that I didn’t but mentioned someone else also on the street. The Prayer Man thanked me and rode off on his bicycle. Some days ago a letter was delivered through the letterbox. I read it. I read it again. I put it away thinking it might be nice to mention it on here sometime. I had it in my hand only yesterday. Now I come to write about the Prayer Man and his words to the street he is praying for, I cannot find it.
What I remember is that he compared believing in the word of God to diving into a swimming pool and surfacing into an ocean. What can I say? Good imagery sticks in the head. I also remember he quoted a line from the film ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ a film I have never seen.
The line was what the man who is saved by his guardian angel says to the angel.
Well, you look about like the kind of an angel I’d get.
It’s not every street that gets a Prayer Man, no matter what they look like. He came to a gathering in the street yesterday to meet more people and say goodbye, for now. Again, he turned up on a bike, but this time instead of sunshine it was in between bursts of torrential rain and great gusts of wind peculiar to the British summer. I remember when we first spoke that first time he had assured me he was ‘not mad,’ not that I had asked. Yesterday’s appearance felt a little surreal, but I still can’t shake the feeling there is more to all this than meets the eye. The Prayer Man is returning home to California and I feel compelled to notice and record in some way what happens during the period of the intercession intervention. Something will happen, after all, because something always does…
I have rather dramatically entitled the post Miracle Street. For the record, no-one is expecting miracles round here, but they may be some hoping and praying for them.