Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Miracle

“Well, I’m fading,” I interjected into a pause in the conversation, standing up and making my way across the room to my bereaved friend. It had been over six hours since I had arrived, hours that encompassed a funeral, a potluck, and a walk through the nearby university gardens, and were now dwindling to sitting around her living room with the few family members and friends who were still around.

My friend stood up smiling and met my embrace warmly. “Thanks for coming out,” she said, and then added in a whisper on my shoulder, “Thank you for loving our little boy.”

I realized two things in that moment: I realized that my friend had been comforted in my sharing of love for her son, and I realized that she was right... I did love him. Somehow, I had come to love a boy I would never see or touch.

In some ways, certainly, love is contagious. How could you not love the little guy after watching his parents love him so deeply since their giddy announcement in January, after hearing the weekly updates announcing that their baby was the size of a pea or had developed fingers, after seeing their commitment to love him continue past the tragic day in May when they learned he would not live, after watching slideshows of beautiful photos taken by a non-profit called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep that celebrated the family in the pregnancy and the two hours in the delivery room? The family had been a heartrending monument to love, and no one at the funeral was immune to it.

But while love may in some ways be a gift that we cannot produce ourselves (like faith), I wonder if prayer is an active agent in fertilizing soil that nurtures it. I love that little 3-pound-5-ounce baby I never met because his parents’ love entered into my heart that had been praying for him for three months and especially in the hour of his death. I once mused that prayer is often more a means of opening our own eyes than of catching God’s; now I wonder if it also opens our hearts. Prayer may be as much about our own sanctification as it is the needs of others.

Sometimes the call to love one another and to forgive our enemies feels as much beyond my control as the task of healing my friend’s son would have been. But at least we can pray nevertheless—for our friends, for the poor, for our enemies—and in the absence of the latter miracle, God may surprise us with the former. While the miracle for my friends’ son was not the ex nihilo creation of the bones and organs he was lacking, maybe it was the ex nihilo creation of love in the hearts of us who prayed for him.

Photo taken by Franklin Golden. Franklin is a volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit foundation that provides professional maternity and birth photos to parents who are losing a child.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I once mused that prayer is often more a means of opening our own eyes than of catching God’s; now I wonder if it also opens our hearts." I think it must be, for God is constantly bombarding us all with so much love that we cannot possibly imagine it. Our only hope is to open our hearts to receive as much of it as we can possibly bear, much as we open our eyes to the night sky, and try to drink in all the stars.