In the book, Praying for Strangers, River Jordan discusses her ambitious New Year’s resolution. Jordan commits to pray for a complete stranger every day for an entire year.
Jordan takes readers with her as she encounters a variety of people: a bruised teen, angry mother, homeless man, hotel maid, young farm hand, and a cast of other unique individuals. Daily, Jordan learns names, hears stories, and prays for people she doesn’t know.
As I read about the strangers Jordan meets, I lounge in chair at a mega bookstore. My chair is one of five cushy chairs lined-up in front of three, over-sized tables. Facing me is another row of five, identical cushy chairs. Each chair contains a person. I am situated among nine other people, and without looking up, I am certain of one thing; I have no idea what any of the people who I’m surrounded by look like.
I try to quiz myself. Surely, I remember a face or some small detail about the strangers who surround me. I have spent over an hour in the same chair, but sadly, I recall nothing.
I look up, and an imaginary fog lifts. The once blurry bodies take on faces and expressions.
One chair over from me sits a young woman. Her hands tightly grip the book she is reading, and entwined in her fingers, she holds a crumpled tissue. Her posture is rigid and her eyes look watery.
I pretend to grab something out of my purse so I can peek at her book. It’s about divorce. Minutes later, two kids wander up to her. They want to go home. The woman nods, lays the book on the coffee table, and leaves.
For the rest of the day, I think of the woman. What’s her story?
It doesn’t matter.
I just pray.