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Easy as pie—or prayer

My mind spins these days with the issues that compete for my attention. I read and think and discuss and pray and ask myself what more I can do.

Much seems unsolvable, and yet I know we each have a part to play. But it’s often hard to see what might be within my abilities in my own little corner of the world.

When I feel helpless, I try to pick one thing and do it well. Sometimes that’s trying to find the words to process things. Sometimes it’s reaching out to check in with a friend. Sometimes it means making a decent dinner.

The other night I set everything aside to make a pie.

Just as I started peeling my Granny Smith apples, my brother sent an invitation to pray a video-call rosary together. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anything that social—video calls have long since lost their luster—but you can’t do much else while slicing apples. I might as well join them in a Rosary.

Soon enough, we were praying, four households in two states, three generations, wriggly toddlers and focused tweens, united in purpose.

I sat and sliced apples, letting the rhythm of the words rush over and around me, losing myself in the blend of voices, sitting with each mystery for a bit, and presenting Mary with our intentions.

It’s easy to forget that there’s something we can almost always do. Even at our most helpless, we can pray. Prayer might not seem like action, but it can be so, so powerful. There’s something beautiful and uplifting and hopeful about turning everything over to God—or to our Blessed Mother or one of the saints to ask them to carry it to Jesus on our behalf.

By the end of the Rosary, we were still in the midst of a pandemic, and I wasn’t sure there was any greater justice in the world. But I felt a sense of peace and purpose. I felt just a bit restored. I had done one small thing in the great cosmic chaos we are living through. God asks more of me than one Rosary I say while baking a pie, I know. But that Rosary was time better spent than sitting and stewing and worrying.

We finished praying, said goodbye, and I looked at the pile of sliced apples in front of me. They were all sliced and ready to bake. I added sugar and cinnamon. I stirred together the dough, rolled it out on the counter, and pieced together my pie.

As I crimped the crust around the edges and poked holes in the top, I marveled at how the pie seemed to have come together almost magically during our rosary.

My hands had done that work, flying through the peeling and coring and slicing as we moved our way through the Our Fathers and Hail Marys and Glory Bes. And the house was filling with the delectable scent of pie.

Maybe you can’t solve all the problems on your mind today. Maybe you can solve one. Or maybe you just need to take a break from the big questions of the world and focus on one small thing that you can do. I hope that one thing you do will help you feel stronger, less alone, and more at peace.