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Monday, May 6, 2013

Prayer Request; Praying for a Miracle for My Sister

Dear Jesus,

"Inhale as a believer, exhale as an atheist." That's a line from my book "
Save Send Delete. I know it's a line from my book because in his recent review, Jeff Miller quoted that line. I had forgotten writing that line. Sometimes, readers remind writers of lines they have forgotten writing.

Can I perform that service for you now, Jesus? May I remind you of a line you may have forgotten speaking?

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Jesus, I am asking. I am seeking. I am knocking.

Jesus, please heal my sister and bless her family. Her surgery is today. I am praying for a miracle cure. For her, for her family.

A believer. An atheist. On the inhale. On the exhale. Both in mere seconds?

God, I have seen enough wonder in your world that I could never be a real atheist. I accept Darwin. Darwin explains nothing. Mechanics. Anyone with a heart, anyone who can be moved by poetry, anyone who has been amazed by a child, knows that mechanics explains nothing.

I think of
the tok tokkie beetle of the Namib Desert, one of the driest deserts in the world. It gets less than half an inch of rain a year. At dawn, the tok tokkie beetle scurries to the top of a sand dune, facing the ocean. The beetle stands on its head. Mist moves across the dune. The beetle's back is grooved; the grooves point toward its mouth. Mist condenses into water; the water flows down the beetle's grooved back towards its mouth. The beetle drinks this water. I don't believe that mere chance, given no matter how many billions of years, produced that eccentric, expert, indispensable water fountain.

God, I have seen enough pain in your world that I struggle with my belief.

My sister has already dealt with enough pain. Her diagnosis comes less than a year after mine. And everything before this. Suffering? Me or any one of my siblings. We could teach graduate level classes.

So, yes, I want to lose my faith. I want to curse God and die.

The great irony is that the words I want to use to seal my atheism are your words, God! "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani," "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" Your words, God! Matthew 27:46. "My only friend is darkness," Psalm 88:18. "Curse God and die," Job 2:9.

Jesus, here is a line I know you spoke that I know you will remember. I've reminded you of it often enough, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." John 11:21

If you had been here, my brother would not have died.

I remember every second. Sitting at the kitchen table. Phil, beautiful Phil, coming downstairs, pausing at the kitchen sink to get a drink. He was wearing a fancy shirt with a painting of a woman's face on the back. It worked. Phil looked good in everything he wore. He moved to the back door, opened it, and left. I was the last person in the family to see him alive.

Seven years later. That dream I had in Nepal. I was living at seven thousand feet, in a village with no electricity, no running water, no glass, no steel, no roads, no planes flying overhead. No telephone, no telegraph, no communication except what could be carried by foot. I had a dream that my mother, my sister, and a doctor landed in a helicopter, got out, walked up to me, and said, "You have to go home. Someone is sick in the family."

I took my passport out of hiding, put it in my backpack, and told my headmaster that I was gone. It was monsoon. As I was walking downhill through mist, several vague, pale forms moved toward me. They looked somehow ghostlike, not human. I realized later it was because they were all dressed all in white – mourning color – and they were all bald, with shaved eyebrows. They trooped past me silently. I realized later, they were my students. Someone had died in their family. That was why they were white, silent, and hairless. Another sign.

Of course I found out when I got to Kathmandu. My brother Mike. Phil had had one stepson. Mike had a son and his wife was pregnant with his daughter, whom he would never know.

In other words, yes, I know that suffering teaches us much. We've gotten it, God. We've learned the lesson.

Miracles also teach us much. Please, Jesus, heal my sister.

And I know you might say no.

And my prayer rapidly becomes, please, Jesus, wrap my sister's husband and her children and her dog in your love.

No matter what happens.

But, please, Jesus, let that not happen. Unlike Mike, unlike Phil, unlike me, let my sister see her grandchildren.

Jesus I know that at this very moment her children, and probably even her dog, are pelting you with all of my sister's good qualities. Her wit so fast it seems to do what physicists can't and turns back time and makes you laugh before you even realized there was anything to laugh about. Her strength. Her unimpeachable work ethic that would make Atlas seem a slacker.

But miracles don't work that way. Jesus, you knew that your cousin, John the Baptist, had many good qualities. Maybe as many good qualities as my sister. Of him, you said, "I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John."

In spite of how well you thought of John, when John was in trouble with Herod, you did not rescue him. No miracle. Herod chopped of John's head. This is what you said, Jesus, "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed blown by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, people who have fine clothes and much wealth live in kings' palaces."

It's almost like you are taunting John. You are saying to him, "This is what life is. It's a desert that offers soul-forming lessons, but for those lessons to take, you have to experience the good, and the bad."

But, Jesus, you did save some people. You did perform some miracles. And not because the recipient had many good qualities.

This is how miracles work:

A woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, "Who is the one who touched Me?" And while they were all denying it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You." But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me." When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace." Luke 8:43-48

The woman with a hemorrhage did not plead her case. She did not hire a lawyer or a PR agent to present to you a carefully manicured advertising campaign proving why she deserved to live.

She just touched your garment.

Jesus, we are touching your garment today in the name of my sister.

And her family. Whom I beg you to bless





Because you also said, "Thy will be done."

Inhale as a believer, exhale as an atheist. Because I have seen your glory. And I have felt your lack. And it's funny how your glory can shine in the darkest places.

I was with my mother when she died. We were alone in the house together.

It's hard to describe that moment. She was in terrible pain. She was wasted by disease. The only relationship she and I had was a shared relationship to pain.

Being with her when she died was one of those moments, God, when I know that you exist. It was just one of the most transcendent moments of my life. In spite of everything.

I pray for a miracle for my sister, her family, and her dog. In Jesus' name I pray.


  1. God bless and comfort your sister, your family and the doctors. Praying that He grants a miracle. May you feel his presence and healing in Jesus name.

  2. I offer my prayers and the prayers of the Xaverian Community this week for your your sister, her family, the medical staff, and of course her Dog! Hang in!!!!

  3. Sad story, beautifully written ... whatever I can do, I have done .... and sending you and yours much love XXX

  4. Danusha,
    Indeed I will keep your sister, her family and you, too, who suffer with her, in my prayers...tonight, tomorrow and into the future days. Please keep us posted. Contacting Karoli is a good way to catch my immediate attention. Thank you for allowing us to share this cross with you. Hugs.

  5. Believe jesus is always with you. I will pray for you and your sister