Category Archives: Faith

Am I Really in Your Thoughts and Prayers?

Every time someone in my family has faced a health crisis, I’m reminded of how wonderful human beings really are.  A friend said to me recently that she hated it when people told her she was in their thoughts and prayers because she was certain that very few people really did pray for you or think much about you when they said it.  She placed the comment in the same category as the greeting, “How are you?” to which we are obligated to respond, “I’m fine.  How are you?”

But when I had Stage 3 breast cancer (nine years ago this month), I thought a lot about that very comment, and I figured that if only some of those people actually did pray for me, then I was certainly the stronger for it.  And people I had considered only acquaintances cared for me in wonderful ways.  One woman sent me a card almost every week during the entire nine months I was undergoing therapy.  My colleagues took turns bringing meals to our home for the eight weeks I was on leave after the surgery.  My students made up a basket of their favorite books and games and snacks.  My four doctors, all women except for the plastic surgeon, learned to read the look on my face and know when they needed to stop and spend a little more time listening to me.  And when I asked the oncologist’s nurse how she could stand to work every day with cancer patients, many of whom died, she told me that she loved talking with these people who had learned what was truly important in life.
This week I’ve been reminded again of how we are made strong in our weakness–how we see the face of God in the people who take care of us.  My husband–the love of my life–had surgery on a lumbar disc yesterday, and the surgery turned out to be a little more complicated than we thought.  Again, friends and acquaintances rallied, texting and sending Facebook messages and letting us know in a hundred little ways that we are not alone.
And while our healthcare providers were all professional and attentive, one nurse at Georgetown University Hospital won our hearts and our hearty thanks.  We had seen the hospital’s commercials that advertised it as “the magnet nurses’ hospital,” but we had never thought twice about what that meant.  But when my husband was moved to the neuro wing, Sarah Belden greeted us with efficiency and smiles, despite the fact that every bed was filled, some with patients who were demanding and difficult.  I watched her sprint from one room to another, but every time she approached my husband’s bed, she slowed her steps and gave him careful attention.  She apologized when she caused him pain and asked repeatedly if she could do anything for him.  She engaged him in conversation and laughed at his jokes borne of the fog of anesthesia and a quirky sense of humor.
So when he was released from the hospital earlier today, and we learned as she was filling out the paperwork that she was only 23 years old, I was also reminded of how many of us set out to make a difference in the world.  And then far too many of us go into our professions and let the unpleasant people and the cynics jade us.  Or we get so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the world’s need that we let our work drain us and forget to enjoy life.
And so, Sarah Belden, thank you for your bubbly cheerfulness and your kind care.  You have reminded me, yet again, that human beings are wonderful and that the face of God shines upon us even in the dark places.

Who Is God?

Is he the vengeful God of my childhood faith–the one I followed out of fear to avoid the fiery hell that I was told awaited me?  The one who exclusively male preachers told me would hound me until I gave up everything I wanted so that I could do what he wanted?  The one with whom we must constantly struggle to surrender, beaten down again and again so that we could somehow be lifted up if we managed to survive a battle that was impossible to win?

Or is the Spirit a god of grace, both father and mother, who nurtures me and teaches me to love by loving me no matter how many times I fail?  The one who cheers me on and helps me develop my best talents–to do well what I am passionate about doing, to see the face of God in the people who journey with me in this life?

I choose the God of Grace, the one big enough to parent all the different children as they look for guidance–the one who has as many ways of finding us as there are children on this earth.  Playwright Thornton Wilder’s Stage Manager says in his playOur Town:

We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal…All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it.

So come now…tell me your stories of the Eternal Something–of the God big enough to love us all and bring out the best in us.  No matter what your religion, I invite you to share a story of what is best about your faith, your God, the one who is big enough to love us.  Let us come together, drawn by the light that is in each of us, and see the face of God a little more clearly in one another.

Please do not use this space to try to seek converts for your faith or to demean the faith of someone else. Any posts that proselytize for a religion or tear down the beliefs of others will be deleted.