Friday, May 02, 2008

Getting Over the Bumps

I miss Leslie. I miss the possibility that I will open my email and she will be there. I didn’t know her enough to have actually heard her laugh but I know that I heard it through her words. She laughed. And it was good. And I miss that.

But more than her passing, the thing that made me stumble on this journey was the idea that I could not cure her through my prayer. I know that Debbie felt the same way also.

We are told that all we have to do is to “ask and it shall be received”. We are told that our prayers are not only heard but answered, that it is our faith that will make us whole, make the prayer be realized.

Now, we know that prayers asking for $ 1 million are not going to be answered necessarily. We know that often we are glad that certain prayers are not answered…at least not in the way that these are asked. We know that we too often ask for the wrong things or the wrong solutions to a problem. And we understand that just because we don’t think we receive an answer, in time an answer is realized. And we realize that to be born is to die one day, regardless.

We prayed for Leslie – for her healing, for a miracle. Just like the psalmist, we reminded God that the world would be better served by the phenomenon of Leslie’s healing rather than her untimely dying, that God would be better glorified by her being made well. To be the product of a miracle would be a living, walking, praising testament to God’s great power in our lives – a modern day version of the leper, the blind man, the lame man, the woman whose daughter had a demon. We didn’t pray for God’s will to be done because we feared that leaving this life would be too much of a possibility.

More than praying…we believed that our long distance prayers could heal her.

So. We can look at this one of several ways. Prayer doesn’t really work. It doesn’t really matter because if God’s will is that someone dies, that someone dies. So, if that is the case, does it not seem logical that if a person appears to be dying and we pray that if that person suddenly recovers into life again, that prayer didn’t really matter? If it is time, it is time, no matter what?

Or we could justify – our faith wasn’t strong enough or that in her illness, Leslie served God well –how many lives were touched and brought closer to God simply by her faithful witness and presence? Would Angi be the same type of preacher that we know she will be had she not gone on this long journey with Leslie?

Well, we knew that it wasn’t a matter of our faith being strong enough. It was. We believed. Too many moments of God’s healing power through our own lives, made us sure that a miracle was possible. While I do not believe that God makes people sick to serve a purpose, I do believe that in that illness we still have choices on how to serve God. I believe that Leslie chose to continue serving.

Debbie and I sat yesterday and we talked. And cried. We both knew that we were experiencing what felt like a crisis in faith. But maybe it was just a bump.

In talking, we came into a thought that prayer isn’t always about or even for the person for whom we are praying. Sometimes it is for the one offering the prayer. We knew that Leslie’s time on this earth was limited. Each prayer we prayed brought us closer to that understanding, especially as her condition became more critical and her understanding of her own mortality became even clearer. Just as she was preparing herself, so were we getting ready for our loss.
The prayer was a way for us to come into an understanding.

Sometimes prayer is for the one being prayed for simply because that person is not able to pray at that moment. I know that I experienced a certain amount of anger after learning of her passing. I know from Leslie’s last few blogs that she was a little bit angry at the idea people were just trying to make her “comfortable”, as though they were giving up. Anger is a form of prayer, I suppose. Still, when one is angry it is difficult to believe that those words are prayers, no matter how much these are lifted up. Perhaps our prayers for miracle healing of Leslie were prayers to help her ready herself for the “transformation”.

I don’t know. I know that we should have been at the memorial service. I know that would have helped in our own healing and prayer crisis. But it just wasn’t possible.

I still believe in the power of prayers. I will continue to pray – the Morning Office and all day long. My very breath is a prayer of thanksgiving; each shortened breath due to anxiety or fear is a prayer for help, each long sigh a prayer for peace. I will pray. It is the only thing that gives me power.

Hopefully we are getting over this little bump. We will still miss her but we know that we are far better for having been called a friend by her. Our lives are better because of her. The world is a better place because of her time upon it. We give a prayer of Thanksgiving for the time we were able to share. We pray that we will carry her ideas of justice and love of laughter close to our hearts and minds forever.

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