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life and death on a prayer walk

December 7th, 2018 | 1 min read

By Matthew Loftus

This essay is D.L. Mayfield at her very best:

If our front door had a screen, I would have banged it on my way out. But instead, I closed it quietly, although I could still hear my children whining to my husband inside. I tell my family I need exercise, I tell myself I need to pray, but in reality I just walk, one foot in front of the other. Skylar is across the street, and I beg the good Lord not to let her notice me. But she does, and yells hello at me. She is in second grade, her hair a thick blonde bob. She is wearing a Batgirl dress, pushing a stroller filled with four dolls. She wants to join me on my walk. She wanders the neighborhood, always looking for someone to play with. She lives with her grandparents around the corner. My daughter tells me Skylar has been forbidden from ever speaking about what happened to her parents. I am wildly curious and wildly sad. Skylar walks with me, and deep inside I wish she wouldn’t, so I could get my moment of peace and quiet.

She chatters to me, never letting a slip of silence linger. Eventually, I tell her to have a good day. My voice cheery, I wave and veer off in a different direction. She stands and watches me go, her stroller tiny and pink and self-contained. I continue on my walk. I try to pray. But God is silent. I ask God to speak to me, to challenge me, to make me better and less angry and sad and anxious. But I’m not sure I really mean it. Prayer is noticing, and I am not sure I am strong enough to keep doing it. I am not sure I am ready to obey, to keep my eyes wide open, and to not be afraid. I’m not sure I am ready to receive Christ, bruised and battered and already dead, here on earth.

Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at