Qualms of an Atheist in Times of Prayer

Americans all over the world are holding hands with loved ones around a table of plenty; bowing their heads in thanks for what they have and in prayer for those who have not. My usual response to such a situation is to keep a respectful silence. Instead, I privately thank those a little closer to home: parents who never falter in their support, two beautiful and smart sisters, friends who have been a family and a world full of people who, all told, are good and generous.

This year it’s been a little different.

My aunt’s brother was in a potentially life-threatening accident this week, and I’ve found myself with a lot more call for prayer than usual for the holiday. Despite not believing in a power higher than mother nature, I’ve always felt I should try to pray for others if their faith helps them deal with pain or trouble. Especially when I’m an ocean away–it’s the only way I can contribute.

But how does one pray?

How do you ask a being you don’t believe in to take care of someone who does believe?

And if for some reason it turned out that I’ve been hoodwinked by science, logic and reason, would a heathens prayers even count, if they were meant for the good of another?

And if I have these feelings, am I even really an atheist at all? That’s the kicker.

I can’t answer any of these questions. So here I am in my loft bed, the hour approaching midnight, essentially trying to start a conversation with my wall. At the very least I hope I will send good vibrations. But it would be nice to have someone to hold hands with.

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