Prayer Under the Magnolia


“Let’s pray.”


The previous two days in Chicago had been very full. As soon as Rich and I landed in Chicago, we made a beeline for Lou Malnati’s for some traditional Chicago deep dish pizza. We sound checked and ate a late supper and met some of the other presenters for the conference. The next day we sang and listened and took notes. At the end of the day, we ate waffles that would have made Leslie Knope proud while we talked about our presentation the next day.

We had listened to one speaker after another present powerful ideas, backed with history and important quotes and lots of professional experience. To say that I was intimidated would be a bit of an understatement. I was flat scared.

But we knew that we were there to tell our story, so we figured out how we wanted to share it. How to talk about things that were too personal to blog about. Stories that felt too close to my heart to share to a larger crowd. Ways to explain intimacy that wasn’t neat and tidy.

We drank coffee and ate our sticky sweet waffles and talked, talked, talked.


On Saturday morning we arrived at the church, busying ourselves by printing off chord charts for the day and making last minute notes on our presentations. We were running in different directions, trying to prepare ourselves for the event.

With just a couple of minutes to go before we were slated to begin, I realized that this busyness was not helping to alleviate my nerves, but was instead multiplying them. I could only think of the ways that what I was planning to share didn’t stack up to the speakers who had gone before.


“Let’s pray.”

I grabbed Rich’s shoulder and in my not-so-delicate manner invited him to head out for a moment of communion before we shared our stories.

We walked past the magnolia tree. The buds were still tightly closed on it, waiting to blossom forth on another day. Yet even in this waiting to bloom, the beauty held within was still evident.

We went behind the church, looking for just a moment of quiet. A brief peace in the hurried morning we had experienced so far.

My hands, like the buds on the magnolia, were held tightly closed. Holding on to fear of sharing too much, to thoughts of inadequacy. Unable to fully share the beauty within.

And then I opened my hand to take the hand of my friend in prayer. And life and beauty began to blossom forth.

“Let’s pray.” 


This is a version of “Umbrella” that Rich and I performed as part of our talk. It’s one of my favorite things that we did all weekend.

By Stuart Yeates [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Leanne

    this is beautiful. thanks for sharing both this post and the music!