Some of the names of people in “Among the Lillies” have been changed to protect their privacy.
More than a hundred of us lived at the Lighthouse Ranch, a former Coast Guard station turned Christian commune in Loleta, California. Loleta is a little dairy town nestled in the hills about a dozen miles from Eureka, which, in comparison to tiny Loleta, seemed as rough and trash-talking as a stevedore on payday. The ranch was perched on a steep bluff above the gray Pacific, and its namesake, an old lighthouse, towered over an ambitious garden of red-veined Swiss chard, stringy rhubarb, mottled pumpkins, and revved-up zucchini. A plot of land at the edge of the world, a garden where seeds took root and flourished in a coma of fog and rain — this was my home.
Many days I lay in my bunk listening to the waves crashing on the beach and the splat-splat-splat of rain on the sidewalk outside the women’s dorm. Clouds over the ocean. Wind in the twisted cypress. If I closed my eyes, I could hear mold growing. The ground was a humid sponge that never dried out but kept decomposing underfoot. The windowpanes by my bed sprouted hairline fractures of dark green. Even clean cotton sheets fresh from the dryer quickly assumed the sweet-sour fragrance of curdled milk.
Listening to the steady rain, I wondered if it was raining on my parents’ house near San Francisco. Just turned nineteen, I was in a tight cocoon, bound by worship and work. Time was ticking by, cycling through season after season. In 1973 — my second summer at the ranch — Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in a tennis match billed as “The Battle of the Sexes,” the space probe took television pictures of Jupiter and transmitted them back to Earth, and women in consciousness-raising groups clambered up on tables with plastic speculums and mirrors, hoping to get a glimpse of their own inner space. Meanwhile, I drifted in a fugue of isolation; no newspapers or radios alerted me to the world outside. I might as well have been living on an atoll in the Pacific.
I had come to the ranch by accident. A directionless teenager, I was thumbing my way down the California coast when a ranch resident picked me up and invited me to dinner. After a meal of chard-and-barley soup, I sat with Sister Carole on the bluff and listened as she told me how much Jesus loved me.
It was a story I’d heard many times before, not only throughout my Catholic upbringing, but also from high-school friends who had become Bible thumpers. The Jesus Movement was big in the early seventies, spawning en masse baptisms in the Pacific and altar calls in football stadiums. But Sister Carole gave the familiar sin-and-salvation story a new twist. She played her guitar and rocked back and forth, her voice ringing out sweet and clear and high. Then she recited from the Song of Songs:
My lover has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my lover’s and my lover is mine; he browses among the lilies. (6:2-3)
It was hot stuff. “Wow,” I said. I immediately felt foolish.
“Jesus is my lover,” Carole said matter-of-factly.
I swallowed hard. It was difficult to imagine Jesus as anyone’s lover. I couldn’t reconcile the glassy-eyed, androgynous-looking man I’d seen in paintings with the lusty, flower-gathering shepherd of the Song of Songs.
“God’s love is intense,” Carole said. “God loves you very much.” She idly strummed a few chords. “Do you know that? Do you know how much you’re loved? God has brought you to this place. It’s no accident that you’re here.”
“It’s all karma, right?”
“No, you’ve done nothing to earn this, not in this life or another. This is about grace. Jesus wants to be one with you. All you have to do is ask Him into your heart. Will you do that? Will you pray with me?”
I suppressed the urge to giggle. Jesus: A sexy savior. A heavenly husband. A rescuing Romeo. A weird mix of Billy Graham and a Harlequin romance.
Carole clasped her hands and prayed, “Jesus, I know you’re here. I know you love this woman. Please show her that you’re real.”
As Carole prayed, my mind swam with thoughts: I’m so tired. This is bizarre. What if it’s true? Is Jesus really the way? Is God my boyfriend? Oh, please. People will laugh. I can’t take this seriously. But I want to believe. I don’t care what people think. Shit, I’m exhausted. Why not give it a whirl? Am I a sinner? Did God really bring me to this point? Can a single prayer redeem a person?
As if she could read my mind, Carole took my hands, cradling them gently like Faberge eggs, and prayed again: “Come into her heart, Lord!”
Yes, come in, I echoed in my mind. I imagined a man with bedroom eyes and long brown hair, wearing sandals and a white toga, striding purposefully up the walk to my house. Brriiiiinnng! The doorbell rang. The door to my heart, glossy as a red satin Valentine, swung open. Jesus stood at the doorway, an aureole of light behind his head.
Come on in, I said, welcoming the Lord in my mind. I immediately began apologizing. The house is a mess and . . .
Carole gave my hands a final squeeze and stopped praying. “Amen,” she said, as if everything had been settled. She smiled. “Welcome to the family.”
Like any small community fortified against outsiders, the ranch was a world unto itself, with its own unwritten rules about language, clothing, and, of course, what it meant to be “spiritual.” Women were called “Sister”; men, “Brother.” Difficult situations or people were considered “trials.” A trial, it was understood, could also be a blessing.
We tried to love one another with a holy love. The problem — then, as now — was ego. Everybody had one. In the midst of that striving, it helped to remember that personality clashes could serve a spiritual end: all that knocking could chip away the soul’s rough edges until we were as smooth as polished glass. But then again, we were people, not rocks, and some of us had a low tolerance for friction.
A stranger first coming to the ranch would see only happy chaos and warm, communal belonging. He or she would notice the women in their long dresses, the men in their sandals and overalls, the excited children in their jeans and T-shirts. The visitor might also note the archaic formality between the sexes, as well as a certain intensity of gaze and sameness of speech — the way people reflexively said, “Praise the Lord,” or, “Thank you, Jesus.” But these are just surface observations. It would take several months of living at the ranch to sort out who really held the power, and who wanted it. And it could take a year or more to decipher the shades of meaning behind seemingly innocent words like soul, family, and witness.
I was blissfully ignorant of such nuances when I first came to the ranch. What I found was a strange and intense place filled with people who seemed to burn with a genuine love for the Lord. Of course, the fact that the ranch was miles from anywhere added to its romantic cachet. The brethren didn’t belong to the Rotary Club or sell appliances at Montgomery Ward; they toiled in the garden, milked cows, made yogurt, and believed in natural childbirth. The ranch was hip and fed my craving for high drama and back-to-the-land experience. And although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, living in that rustic never-never land was a way of postponing adulthood.
In the Book of Luke, Jesus says: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” My hand was on the plow. I was resolute about not looking back. “I’m in the hollow of His hands,” I wrote my parents on Lighthouse Ranch stationery, which depicted a neat little garden and a large building overshadowed by a cross.
The year before, in the Bay Area suburb where I’d gone to high school, I’d smoked fat joints and tippled wine. Buzzed, I’d whirled around my bedroom in my underwear, snapping my fingers and scatting along to Van Morrison’s “Moondance.” Now I stood at church services in my embroidered corduroy jumper, thermal underwear, and scuffed hiking boots. I clapped my hands and weaved from side to side like Herman Munster looped on a bottle of Blue Nun.
It wasn’t all singing and bliss, though. Privacy at the ranch was as rare as meat for dinner. Sometimes all that forced intimacy felt like an endurance contest. Most of the women I lived with in the sisters’ dorm were not my idea of perfect roommates. Some of them I tolerated, even loved. Others were, well, trials.
Ella was my chief trial. I felt certain the Lord was using Ella to humble me and do a work in my soul. (In the language of the Lighthouse, God often “did a work” in someone.) Nobody but God — or perhaps Satan — could’ve placed that sister in my path so often. Whether it was kitchen duty, weeding the garden, or sorting the mail, there was Ella, earnest and upright as a cowlick. Everything about her bothered me, from the little rickracked smocks she wore over her jeans to the purple-haired troll doll she kept on the shelf in her bunk, right next to her tube of Avon hand cream. Her prized possession was a poster of a curly-haired Jesus — handsome as a rock star — praying in the Garden of Gethsemane in anticipation of his betrayal and crucifixion: “My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Ella slept in the bunk above mine. She awoke early and often spent the first half-hour in bed praying, aloud and with feeling. “Praise you, Lord,” she would say. “Bless you, Lord. Hallelujah, Jesus. Jeeeeeesus.”
I lay on my back, staring up through the slats at the bottom of Ella’s mattress. Closing my eyes, I tried to burrow back into sleep.
“Thank you, Father,” Ella continued. “Oh, merciful Lord.”
Once, I gently reminded her of what Jesus had to say on the subject of prayer — that you should do it in private, in your room, with the door closed. Ella countered that she was in her room, as much as a narrow, curtained bunk can be a room. She was right, but I resented her tone.
Ella was a country girl; she came from a farming community in California’s Central Valley and knew how to can vegetables and make grits and gravy. She was moon-faced and stocky, with spaghetti-straight brown hair that hung down her back and a little gap between her front teeth. For such a short person, she gave off an intense vibe. A literal soul, Ella was completely lacking in irony. She was living with the unmarried women in the sisters’ dorm only until her husband, Chuck, was released from the state prison at Vacaville. I didn’t know what he was in prison for, but I did know that Ella was trying to honor her marriage vows and be a strong Christian witness to her husband. She hoped that when Chuck got out, they could start over, basing their new life together on Christian principles. She could barely speak a sentence without invoking his name.
“Got a letter from Chuck,” Ella would say after the morning Bible study. “Oh, Jesus, give me strength.” She’d sigh, thumbing through his letter, scrawled on yellow legal stationery. Ella, sotto voce, during her morning devotional: “Help me to deal with him, Lord.” Or in the kitchen, chopping onions for potato soup: “Chuck hates onions.” Whack, whack. “No, Chuck never has liked them. Chuck’s a picky eater.” She’d put down the knife and stare out the window at the parking lot, as if expecting him to roar up on a Harley at any moment. “Wonder what they’re serving for dinner tonight.” Whack. “In that place.”
In some ways, Ella and I were closer than two people having an affair. We saw each other in our cotton underwear, huddled together to warm our chilly backsides in front of the heater in the dorm parlor. Yet Ella evoked in me a disdain so deep that even now I barely understand it. She was simple and plain and vulnerable, completely without artifice. Why did I scorn her for that? Sometimes when the elders talked about how the Lord put difficult people in our lives in order to enlarge our hearts, I looked right at Ella.
But if the Holy Spirit was working on me, it was also working on Ella. She disapproved strongly of Gretchen, who slept across from us. Gretchen dyed her shoulder-length hair blond, did air-force strength-conditioning exercises in her pajamas, and, in true communal spirit, sometimes borrowed our clothes without asking. In another life, Gretchen had been a musician, and she still played the violin during church services. Her facial hair was so heavy that she had to shave every morning. I’d see her hunched over the bathroom sink in her baby-doll nightie, calmly running a Schick across her jaw. In the shower, she soaped her zaftig body and sang operatically: “I am nothing! Jesus reduced me to looooooove! Jesus reduced me to looooooove!” Then she would cackle.
Some days Gretchen was flying so high she couldn’t stop talking. Other days she took to her bunk with vague complaints about “spiritual oppression.” I liked Gretchen because she was campy and out there; she had a sense of humor and always seemed to be playing a character: consumptive Camille with PMS; madcap Heidi with a five o’clock shadow; Beverly Sills on teeth-grinding uppers. But Gretchen’s mood swings grated on Ella, who was as self-contained as a baked potato. One afternoon, as I sat in the dorm parlor to rest up after lunch duty, I noticed Ella lingering by Gretchen’s curtained bunk.
“Are you in there?” Ella whispered.
Gretchen’s reply was subdued. “No, I’m not.”
“Can I share something with you?” Ella said.
My heart always sank when people asked if they could “share something” with me. “Sharing” usually meant they were getting ready to make some cutting personal observation. The observation might be wrapped in sanctimonious language or Bible verses, but the result was always the same: a spiritual raspberry. I distrusted people who shared, and so, I suspect, did Gretchen. (This didn’t stop me from sharing, though.)
“Please just go away,” Gretchen said. “Tell me tomorrow.”
“Listen to me,” Ella hissed. “You have the mind of Christ. Do you know what that means? You don’t have to feel bad.”
“Not today,” Gretchen mewled.
“ ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,’ ” Ella quoted. “That’s Romans 12:2. You can look it up. ‘The renewing of your mind,’ Gretchen. You need to renew your mind through the Word.”
“Do we have any Pepto-Bismol?” Gretchen said.
“I’m going to pray for you.”
“Why don’t you leave her alone?” I said, walking over. “She says she doesn’t feel well.” I peered at Gretchen’s curtain. A faint light shone through the flimsy fabric. I thought I heard cellophane rustling. Gretchen often stashed contraband bags of chips and cookies in her bunk.
“She’s giving in to Satan,” Ella declared earnestly. “Either that or she’s faking.”
From behind her curtain, Gretchen suddenly and volcanically broke wind. It sounded like a flapping pair of lips, like a balloon when you untie the end and it expels air in emphatic, ragged bursts. Ella and I looked at each other, astonished. My eyes watered.
“Thank you, Jesus!” Gretchen sang out.
At first I thought Gretchen’s cheerful tone was an attempt to distract us from what we’d just heard. If I’d been her, I would’ve been mortified. But when Gretchen poked her head between the curtains, she didn’t look the least bit embarrassed.
“Wow!” I said.
“That was something,” Ella said.
“It just slipped out,” Gretchen said with a shrug.
Slipped was the wrong word. Torpedoed or erupted was more like it.
“Praise God,” said Gretchen merrily, the diva in her making a comeback. “It must’ve been the lentil soup.”
“You are sick,” Ella declared, her shoulders shaking with laughter. Giggling, she climbed the ladder to her bunk and drew the curtain. For a moment I forgave her everything.
Helen was a woman in her early twenties whose heart had been — there’s no other word for it — flayed. She’d recently given birth to a baby girl, Zooey, whom she’d given up for adoption. Now Helen was bereft, inconsolable, continually on the verge of tears, talking rapid-fire one minute, nearly catatonic the next.
I didn’t know why Helen had come to the ranch, but her kinetic presence in the sisters’ dorm made us all edgy. I read once that sharks never sleep but have to stay in constant motion or they’ll drown. Helen was like that, a trolling blur of restless limbs, with reddened eyes that never shut. How tired she must’ve been; how tired she made us all.
No matter how we tried, we couldn’t help Helen. We prayed over her, asked Jesus to lift the demonic spirit that plagued her, but Helen didn’t improve. She belonged at home.
Helen had driven to the ranch, but she was in no shape to drive herself home. Probably because I was semireliable and unencumbered with children, I was recruited to drive her to her parents’ house. Helen’s parents were wealthy intellectuals who lived in the Berkeley hills. I had the distinct feeling that they didn’t approve of their daughter’s sojourn among us believers, whom they probably dismissed as “hippie Jesus freaks.” I know my mother was disappointed in me. She thought the Lighthouse Ranch was a sexist, repressive organization and that I was wasting my life.
Ella, too, was packing — for one of her conjugal visits with Chuck. Those visits always seemed charged, mixed up in my mind with images of dangerous sex, outlandish lingerie, and postcoital crying jags. I imagined Ella and Chuck’s rendezvous in a grim little motor home behind a thicket of razor wire. Did they have to tear themselves apart like breathless teenagers in time for roll call? Did they play Monopoly or watch Mary Tyler Moore? Did Ella play Delilah to Chuck’s Samson? Did she giggle and straddle his lap and run her fingers through his thick, oily hair? Or was she the picture of wifely submission, just down for a quick trip and a shot at witnessing to her man?
I’d never find out. Off she went on a Greyhound, and my fantasies spun on and on. I couldn’t turn them off. When I saw Ella upon her return, I’d feel as if I’d violated them both in my thoughts.
When it was time to leave, Helen handed me the car keys with a gloomy air.
“Ready?” I asked.
“OK, let’s go,” I said.
Helen stood by the car door, looking across the tidy garden to the wooden cross on the bluff.
“Here we go,” I prompted.
She nodded absently but didn’t move.
Sister Barb, who could be a little pushy, clip-clopped out to the car in her little wobbly shoes. The wind caught at the hem of her madras skirt, exposing knobby knees. “Praise the Lord, Helen,” Barb said, trying to hurry her along. “We’ll be praying for you.”
A tear glistened in the corner of Helen’s eye. Barb gave me a meaningful look. I implored her with my eyes. Somebody had to take charge.
“We’ll miss you, Helen,” Barb said, brisk as a nurse. “Goodbye.” Barb put Helen’s suitcase in the back of the car. Finally Helen got in, and I drove out of the parking lot with a heavy heart.
Lurching down Highway 101 in Helen’s Volvo, I kept a sweaty grip on the wheel. Helen slumped against the passenger door, chin quivering, hands folded tightly in her lap. Towns rolled by: Fortuna, Rio Dell, Scotia.
“Want to sing a song?” I said. “How about ‘The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength’?”
Helen shook her head vacantly. I didn’t blame her.
“What’s wrong, Helen?”
“I’m fine,” Helen said. Sniff, sniff. And then the floodgates opened, and Helen wept and babbled about Zooey. Zooey! She wanted her baby girl back. Why couldn’t she get her back? She was a good mother, wasn’t she? Where was Zooey? Couldn’t she at least visit her baby?
“I don’t know,” I stammered, feeling helpless. “I’m so sorry.”
Placing her hands on her flabby abdomen, Helen bent over and sobbed: “I never should have let her out of my sight.”
I was ready to turn back. Chauffeuring Helen was a job for someone with a hardier, less permeable personality. I was becoming as hopped up as she was: twitchy, hungry, homesick for a child I’d never known. My mind echoed: Zooey! Mama! Baby! Gimme! I chewed the inside of my cheeks and tried to stay within the white lines on the road. Think of those lines as stitches, I told myself. Neat and tidy, in and out. Sew yourself to Berkeley, and keep the thread taut.
By the time we reached Pepperwood, Helen was hyperventilating. “Stop the car!” she said, bracing herself against the dashboard.
I hit the brakes. “Are you sick or something?”
Helen rolled down the window. “I need to get out for a minute.”
“Do you have to pee? Helen?”
She opened the door and swung her feet onto the roadside.
“You know, Helen, we’re never going to get you home at the rate we’re going,” I said to her retreating back.
“I need some air!” she called.
You and me both, I thought.
Helen stopped by a grove of redwoods. The Eel River tumbled by. She shook a finger at a tree branch, as if lecturing a naughty puppy. I was trying very hard not to be terrified of Helen. We had been thrown together without even the ease of small talk. We were just two people hanging on by our fingernails. There was really nothing I could do but pray, and that I did in the most direct fashion: “Oh-shit-God-help, oh-shit-God-help, oh-shit-God-help.” This was my mantra, a four-word invocation repeated mindlessly as I watched Helen converse with the trees. At that moment, Jesus felt like a figment of my imagination.
Helen seemed to be gathering steam for a major meltdown. The river rushed over the rocks, cold and frothy. Helen requires so much vigilance! I thought angrily. I didn’t know whether she was going to fling herself into the Eel or start singing “My Sweet Lord.” (I was nineteen and childless. What did I know about postpartum depression?) Why are you doing this to me, Helen? I thought.
And then I stopped. Helen. I’d been bludgeoning her with her own name, flogging her with a name that was not only familiar to but cherished by God. I thought about that Scripture that says the Lord knows us and calls us each by name. That Scripture, so intimate, so personal, had always given me chills.
I got out of the car and walked over to Helen. She was sitting on a log, tossing pine needles into the river.
“What’s wrong?” I said, squatting beside her.
“I feel sad, that’s all,” she said, flinging in a handful. “I’m sorry I’m such a mess.”
“You’re not a mess. I promise you.”
When we reached Helen’s parents’ house that night, they fed us tofu and stir-fried vegetables and plied her with anxious questions: Had she forgotten to take her medication? Where exactly had she been? Did she need to make an appointment with Dr. Sanders? No one uttered a word about Zooey.
I spent the night at their house and took the Greyhound back to Eureka the next evening. I sat in a window seat with my Bible on my lap. The bus was crowded, and the passengers were restless. Somewhere around Healdsburg, an older woman got on and sat next to me. She was short and had a bad perm that was growing out. She pulled a ball of yarn out of her bag and began knitting. I glanced over at her and then looked away. I knew that God wanted me to witness to her, but I didn’t want to. Several miles passed. I argued silently with God: Do I have to? Why can’t I just ride the bus like everybody else? What do you want me to say, anyway? Sighing, I flipped open my Bible at random and read Psalm 130:1: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. / O Lord, hear my voice.”
Clearly, God was telling me to praise Him at all times, even on a Greyhound.
As more than one sister or brother had pointed out, I did not have the gift of song. I was tone-deaf and tune-challenged. But as dusk came on, I flicked on the overhead reading light, cleared my throat, and sang tunelessly, in a low voice:
Oh, God, hear my cry, Attend unto my prayer. From the depths of the earth I will cry unto thee When my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock That is higher than I. Jesus is the rock That is higher than I.
My stone-faced companion didn’t miss a stitch. I stopped singing, flicked off my light, and turned toward the window, burning with embarrassment. Her needles kept clicking. Neither of us said a word. When we stopped in Cloverdale, she moved to another seat.
The first day back from Vacaville was always hard for Ella. She was short and snappish with us, weighed down by private thoughts. We watched as she slowly unpacked her overnight bag and placed her belongings back on her bunk shelves: King James Bible, hand cream, troll doll.
“How’s Chuck?” asked Gretchen, sitting cross-legged in her bunk, her hand in a bag of Pepperidge Farm Orange Milano cookies. “Is he still with the Lord? Did you guys get a chance to, um, be together?”
“Chuck’s fine,” Ella said curtly, draping her good slacks over a hanger. “The Lord is doing a work in his heart.”
“Just in his heart?” Gretchen teased.
Ella shook her head and sighed. It couldn’t have been easy for her living with a bunch of moony single women who liked to read the Song of Songs aloud and speculate about who would get married next. (We were a regular marriage factory.) I had crushes on some of the brothers and had indulged in a few motor-home-and-concertina-wire fantasies myself, but I would never admit this to Ella or anybody else. These were carnal, shallow, unworthy thoughts.
Ella, who wasn’t even twenty, was already well schooled in disillusionment and disappointment. She knew love wasn’t giving yourself to some comely shepherd with grape leaves in his hair; love was sitting in a cigarette-strewn bus terminal waiting for a Greyhound that would take you to a grim room, where you would be glumly searched and prodded for contraband. Love was unpacking your suitcase after a five-hour trip, smoothing out that blouse you’d bought on layaway at Sears, and asking your husband, “What’s new?” even though you realized that nothing was new, nor would it be for a long time.
Ella had character. She hung in there with Chuck, and she hung in there with us — but I still didn’t consider her my friend. She frightened me. She was trying to follow Jesus, to serve him, to honor her vows, to do the right thing. While Chuck was doing his time in Vacaville, Ella was doing hers at the ranch. I feared that this was the kind of perfect obedience the Lord required, this passive, animal acquiescence. Ella was being broken, bit by bit, and put back together in a shape beyond her reckoning. I did not want to turn into Ella.
At the ranch we used to pray that God would break us so we would become humbled, willing to do his bidding. I didn’t realize then that prayers weren’t necessary to hurry this request along: life will break the proudest heart, bring us to unrecognizable versions of ourselves, like it or not.
In a few months’ time, I would marry a brother and become enmeshed in my own trials about marital obedience and submission. In less than two years, our marriage would implode, and I would finally be ready to deal with real-world dilemmas: finding an apartment, reconnecting with my parents, applying to college. By then, I would feel like a spiritual outsider, on the other side of Christianity’s velvet rope, unable to enter the club because some beefy bouncer at the door insisted I didn’t have the right credentials. But the ranch’s particular landscape would continue to haunt my imagination for years to come. The soft-focus Jesus of my dreams, the heavenly hottie I’d fantasized about as a teenager, would be replaced by the deeper Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus who stubbornly refuses to let me go, the one who calls me by name.
In the weeks following her visit to Vacaville, Ella’s face looked pinched. A test confirmed her pregnancy. I tried to imagine her last visit with Chuck: The two of them lying in bed the morning after, resting cups of coffee on their chests, staring out the window at the fourteen-foot-high perimeter fence. Or maybe a fog enfolded them in a gray mist and mercifully blotted out the guard tower. A fertilized egg was drifting through the isthmus of her fallopian tube, tumbling toward the blood-rich delta of her uterus. A work was being done in Ella’s body, as well as in her spirit. Maybe she already knew. Perhaps she glanced at Chuck and saw the muscles working in his clenched jaw. Perhaps she prayed, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Lord, may this cup be taken from me.”