In the past few weeks, I learned some difficult news about a couple of my friends. One was diagnosed with cancer; the other – a woman of my age — learned that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. On both occasions I was nearly knocked off my feet. I reminded myself – once again – to never, NEVER whine and/or complain because I – on only two occasions — have had to go to the hospital and get a nasal gastric tube inserted. Life is all about perspective, my friends.
So I have, of course, added these two friends to my prayer list of people who are ill. But I can’t help but feel as though prayer seems just so insignificant sometimes. I pray for miracles, and wait for the miracles to happen. They never seem to happen, unfortunately. As far as I know, my prayers haven’t brought anyone back from the dead.
I thought of my friends yesterday as I listened to the readings. The first reading was from first Book of Kings, and talked about Elijah bringing a poor, lonely widow’s son back to life simply by asking God to do so. And then, in St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus raised the son of a widow from the dead because her crying moved him so.
Whaaaat? Maybe the problem is that I’m not a widow. Or maybe I’m not praying hard enough, or in the right way.
Or maybe, just maybe, my prayers are being answered in unexpected ways.
Beginning immediately after Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I began praying every day that God would perform a miracle and cure him of the disease. Why not ask, I told myself. And every six months when we would go to see his neurologist, they would tell us he was doing remarkably well, but, yes, he still has Parkinson’s disease.
Finally, it occurred to me that while he wasn’t being miraculously cured of this thus-far incurable disease, he is still able to do everything he could do before. He might do it slower. He might need some help on occasion. Perhaps as time goes on, he will need more help. But God has given us a full seven years since his diagnosis to continue to live a good life. And we have grown closer, and I have learned a bit more about patience. All small miracles.
My friend who has been diagnosed with cancer posted a picture on Facebook recently of her and her husband eating breakfast al fresco at Denver Biscuit Company, one of her favorite restaurants. In the photo, her husband is looking at her and has his arm gently around her neck, and they are both smiling. It is the sweetest picture, and I cried for an hour after seeing it. In fact, as I write these words, I am crying. Perhaps the miracle isn’t that her cancer will be cured (though I hope it will be) but that the two of them will grow ever closer as she tackles her future.
I will keep praying for miracles because God can do anything. But I will try to stop sitting back and waiting for a dead man to sit up or a leper to be cured and appreciate the small miracles that happen every day.
Here are my miracles….