The Dust Storm in Prayer

dust storm approaching Stratford, Texas, 1935 [PD]Have you ever felt like you are caught in a dust storm in prayer, where there is so much swirling around you that you struggle to see clearly? I feel like I am living in one such storm right now. There are abundant graces surrounding me at the same time I feel surrounded by many questions.

We are in a season of transition in our family, marked by our third move in seven years to a different city. This time we did not move to an unfamiliar city, but we returned home, to our beloved hometown of Baton Rouge, LA. Sheepishly I admit, I thought this move would be a piece of cake, because it did not have some of the challenges of our other moves: knowing no one, being unfamiliar with the city, and starting completely over from scratch. While this move includes returning to family, life-long friends, and a city I know like the back of my hand, it also holds many unanswered questions because of how quickly this move happened.

Daily I come to prayer, and as I try to quiet myself, I feel bombarded by numerous thoughts as I bring my last 24 hours before God. The gift of returning home feels like a shower of graces, which invigorates and confuses me at the same time as I seek to open myself to receive God’s overwhelming goodness. How do we live with this abundance, Lord? How are you calling us to embrace and return these gifts to you?Then my brain turns to the pieces of our life that still feel unclear: all of the questions about finding a home, helping three children adjust to a new city and school, discerning invitations for ministry, and seeking God’s guidance for what work will look like here. I attempt to bring each piece of our life before God, but I feel like there is a dust storm, full of both consolation and uncertainty, swirling around me, making me struggle to keep my center in God.

What I know from past seasons of transition is that what feels like a dust storm now, clouding me from seeing everything clearly, will eventually settle. What will hold me steady right now, though? I continue to turn to the reminder from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Rejoice in hope…persevere in prayer” (12:12). The easier part right now is to rejoice in all the good and give thanks for every answered prayer and gift from God. The more challenging piece for me is to continue to persevere in prayer as my husband and I seek God’s guidance on the remaining pieces of this transition. I want to act and move things along quicker than they seem to be progressing right now.

I want out of the dust storm, but that is not where life has me right now. It has me standing in the cloud of dust while naming the gifts and holding the questions. I am not there alone, though, even though I feel like I cannot see clearly. I feel the infinite presence of God holding me steady.


  1. Becky, thank you for this reflection. If reawakened in me a similar period in my life where my wife and I were making a major move (mobile to Washington D.C. From one Jesuit College to another Jesuit University) with 5 children (twins included) under the age of 7. We soon learned another child was on the way. Perhaps most poignantly my mother and brother were in the last stages of their respective cancers. For us-truly a time of uncertainty, tears, financial stress, joy and discovery as never before.I’ve often used the image of going down river rapids in a raft with everyone holding on tight as our metaphor. I came to accept that in many ways the times of uncertainly and change , of not ‘knowing or seeing clearly’ help us to ‘know’ who we are as people of faith and to embrace more fully and joyfully the true mystery that each day brings. Our 6th child arrived the day after Christmas, I remained at my university for two decades, my spouse launched her non profit organization to address homelessness-each day the mystery reveals new opportunities. I hope the dust settles-most of it at least! Peace and thank you for sharing.

  2. Becky, your honesty is reassuring for others who find themselves in the middle of one – like myself. In my experience too, you know our loving Lord knows its purpose and its reason, and we can sometimes forget this in our swirling dusty condition. Grace abounds too during these times, and just today I wondered and admitted how impatient I had become recently. So God’s ways are perfect and He knows too just what we need – like a dust storm filled with unimaginable divine love and forgiveness and compassionate patience. This is the beginning of a huge spiritual learning curve for me. God bless you and your family.

  3. Becky, this reflection really speaks to me at this moment in my life. I thought that the dust of the past had settled but, not so much! It is being stirred up again and forcing me to resolve some unsettled issues that I would rather leave alone. Like you, I just want to move forward. Thank you very much for sharing your story. Prayers for you as you move through this time of transition.

  4. Becky, maybe the swirling dust is God’s way of slowing you down since you are hoping for a quick resolution. Maybe God wants you to have more time to discern your ministry,clarify house requirements,who knows? From the dust, lift will appear. All will make sense and fall into place . We just need to remember that God’s time is not our time. My swirling dust is my ex,of today, that there is a nodule on my thyroid gland. Lots of tests ordered. At this point,I turn this over to our Divine Creator.

  5. I love the image of the dust storm. Not seeing clearly yet feeling the infinite presence of God. I relate to this feeling completely, being caught in one myself for a while. Your last paragraph is beautiful, “naming the gifts and holding the questions.” Thank you for that.


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