Jim, our team leader, opened the container and cursed. “What are we going to do with all these prayers?”
“People have sent us prayers again. Here’s another container load!” Jim kicked the metal door, but only succeeded in hurting his foot. He then grabbed a cardboard box from inside the container and ripped it open.
“But there’s nothing in the box,” I said, confused.
“Of course not. Prayers don’t exist in our corporeal world.”
“How can they help us then?”
“I have no idea. Isn’t that your job anyway?”
“Yes, you. Use your initiative…that’s what you’re here for isn’t it?”
I just nodded, not sure what to do.
“Good. I’m going back into town to see how the reconstruction efforts are going,” said Jim, leaving me with the box of prayers.
I had no idea what to do with them. I was an unbeliever anyway. What did I know about prayers? How could they help the refugees? I asked around, but I just got a bunch of blank stares.
The woman in charge of feeding the refugees in the camps said she’d try adding the prayers to the food, and it seemed to work well at first. Some people said it added to the flavour, and one person swore that it made the food more nutritious, but when one of the local imams asked if the prayers were Muslim, I said I wasn’t sure.
“I suspect they are mostly Christian.”
“Can they be separated from any Muslim prayers?” he asked.
“I don’t think so.”
“Then we can’t eat this food,” he said. “It isn’t halal.”
So, using them as a food supplement was out of the question for the mostly Muslim population. I thought about maybe adding it to some medicines, but I suspected that I’d be confronted by the same issue, so I was stuck for an idea again.
One of the engineers suggested that we add them to the mortar we used in the rebuilding effort, but again the locals were against having Christian prayers permanently cemented in their homes, so we used them in some of the admin buildings. The mortar seemed to become stronger and more consistent, which was good I suppose. We also used the cardboard boxes the prayers came in as insulation, and they certainly seemed to keep the heat of the tropical days at bay, but eventually we ran out of buildings we could use the prayers for.
We then tried using them as a fuel supplement, but something in them seemed to make our truck engines lose power. One of the mechanics ventured that the prayers may have reduced the efficiency of the combustion, given their natural calming effects. Either way, I needed to find something else to do with the remaining boxes of prayers taking up space in our logistics centre.
Eventually we ended up using them for kids toys. One of the soldiers, as a joke, had filled up a condom with a couple of prayers. To everyone’s surprise, the condom-balloon floated in place, neither rising in the air like a small helium balloon, nor falling to the ground. It didn’t take long for the local kids to realise that you could direct them through the power of thought…up, down, sideways. I tried it a few times, but I was hopeless.
“You don’t have enough faith,” said one of the kids, who then ran off, my balloon following him effortlessly as if tied to him with an invisible string.
I still didn’t believe in the power of prayer, but I must admit that when I saw the looks of joy on the faces of the children in the camp as they played with their prayer-powered condom balloons, I thought to myself, maybe sending prayers to disaster areas isn’t a complete waste of time.
Eventually the supply of prayers started to dwindle. It seems that the people back home only thought about sending prayers when the refugees were still in the news. Once the focus on the disaster and its aftermath disappeared from the daily media, people’s attention moved on elsewhere. But the kids were happy, and Jim was pleased with my efforts. I still wish I had learnt how to move those prayer-filled balloons with my mind though.
John James has written 203 posts.
JJ is a blogger who is bored with traditional opinion blogging. He is a co-founder and editor at KiKi & Tea. He also represents the grumpy middle-aged man demographic on KiKi & Tea. He is a writer by trade and a frustrated rock star / crime fighter by night, and blogs about music at newmusicrevue.com.
Follow on twitter: @JohnJamesOZ