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I have just returned from a short break with my family. We decided to go shopping for the afternoon. A seemingly ordinary afternoon, we stopped for some lunch at a fast food restaurant that shall remain nameless. We sat at one of the benches with eight seats around it, the kind that almost guarantees that at busy times, you will be sharing your table with strangers.

While I waited for my food, a very small, very elderly lady came and sat at the other end of the table. And as I sat, waiting for my food, surrounded by a cacophony of noise from families shopping for presents and stuffing their faces, I was shocked to see that she was crying. Silently, the tears were flowing down her cheeks. She was staring ahead, with her head up, tears running, with as much dignity as she could muster.

I couldn’t help it, I was concerned. I asked if she was alright, if she wanted to talk. She smiled sadly, and very quietly answered.
“No, thank you, I’m just being silly.”
I did not persist; her food arrived and the tears stopped, though she still looked far away.

As I reflect now on this chance encounter with a very small, very elderly, very sad lady, I am beginning to understand why some people pray. They pray when they have done all they can in a situation, but they have nothing more to give. They pray because that is the only way they can remain hopeful. It doesn’t matter who they pray to, because the intention is universal; they want the right outcome, even when it is completely out of their hands.

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