Where do unanswered prayers go?
Do they get lost on their way to God’s ears like tourists who are forever turning down the wrong streets?
Do they evaporate like the hours of a lost afternoon, scattered in the dust of daydreams?
Do they burst into nothingness like the fragile space inside a soap bubble when it pops?
Or maybe they are more like socks lost in the laundry, between the worn and the washed, the hamper and the drawer.
Vanished. Or evaporated. Or something all together more mysterious. But lost just the same. And all that remains is its unmatched mate, set aside in a special place or maybe just on a shelf beside the detergent — in hopes of the lost turning up some day.
That lonely sock lives in a separate space from the everyday world where things are useful, have purpose, and life.
It lives only in the emptiness opened up by its solitary presence.
Perhaps that is where unanswered prayers go, this purgatory created by waiting on the absence of a return.
And which becomes the unanswered prayer, then, the sock that remains or the sock that is lost?
At long last, after weeks, or months, and maybe years, only one question begins to matter: Why does this lonely sock remain as anything more than a memory when its toes are too small and its heels have holes?
When it exists only to remind of what was never found.
And so it too is lost.
Cast away in mercy.
To join that place of lost things.
Where with the tourist, and the afternoon, and the air of a soap bubble, it can finally be at rest.
This, after all, is prayer.
And also the answer to it.