Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Sweeping the devil away

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY | Published July 4, 2013

murray_070413I’d be telling a huge lie if I said this has been a good summer so far. In fact, it could go down in history as one of the world’s worst. We have been battling an ongoing painful shoulder injury that my husband sustained about two months ago, which means he has only one arm that works.

He has had to let go of many things he once could do, and that includes preparing delicious suppers, fixing things around the house, riding his scooter to work, helping with laundry and groceries, yard work, heavy lifting—and even, alas, bear hugs.

To add insult to injury, so to speak, we went on vacation for a week, but it took us two weeks to recover since we came back with seriously awful colds.

I’m well aware that the crafty old devil has a way of getting his clutches into folks and tempting them to lose hope—and there are moments when he seems to be getting the upper hand with me.

One day I realized it was time for some fervent prayer. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I had certainly beseeched my friends for prayers, and I was praying in my own way through constant pleading and the ongoing worry that sometimes passes as prayer. And every night I got down on my knees and told God my troubles—and cried.

But I was avoiding the rosary because, you know, it takes so much time! And, gee, I’m busy what with grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, taking my husband to medical appointments, writing my columns and all that.

Then I realized how stupid my excuses were, given that I waste so much time every day checking Facebook. But frankly I do hate sitting in one place too long, and saying the rosary seems to require that.

One evening, I headed out to the back deck and took a new approach to the rosary, walking around as I prayed the Joyful Mysteries. As I walked, I prayed for healing for my husband and healing for myself, from depression. I prayed for a friend who just had surgery on his hand and for our godson, going on vacation the next day.

I also prayed that the devil would leave me alone, just for a few minutes.

And here are all the things that happened as I prayed that one rosary: A plane drifted through the sky overhead and a flock of sparrows landed in a large nest in a nearby tree, where they chirped excitedly as if discussing the floor plan.

A chipmunk scurried by while sirens shrieked in the distance—and I suddenly noticed there were spider webs in the corners of the porch. Next a frog croaked and another plane went by, while somewhere down the block a rooster crowed. Then the train on Coventry Road thundered along, and the conductor sounded the horn.

And somehow, my endlessly busy, talkative mind shut up for just a few minutes, and what a relief that was.

Once the rosary was over, I grabbed my trusty broom and swept the spiders off the porch. There were five of them, and as I brushed them down the stairs and into the backyard, I imagined that I was chasing all our sorrows and pain away.

Spiders can be poisonous, obviously, and so can sinking into gloom and doom, which I’ve been doing too much of lately. So as I swept, I told the devil in no uncertain terms to get the heck out of our lives, not just this summer, but forever—and I mean it.

Artwork is by Jef Murray, whose new book of stories and illustrations, “Seer: A Wizard’s Journal,” can be ordered at local and online bookstores. Readers may email the Murrays at