Once a month our congregation offers an evening service of healing and wholeness in the Taize style of worship. I attended the service for the first time last night – for the first time, not because I don’t have those to pray for who are seeking healing and wholeness, but because, really, my colleague is beautifully suited to lead that service and usually at 5:30 on a Saturday night I don’t want to be in church.
But I went last night, in part so that I could experience it but also because a few of us were staying afterwards to decorate for the Pentecost service today. It was a lovely service and I’m glad I was there as it feels that there is a lot to pray about right now .
So the choir is leading some of the Taize songs, and my mind wanders in a good way. I start thinking about a friend of mine who has been diagnosed with cancer, and the prognosis is so-so. I start thinking that I would like a miracle for this friend, which gets me thinking about miracles in general.
Once in my life I prayed for a miracle. A very dear parishioner in the first congregation I served was in a coma. It was a cardiac thing, an utter surprise for this healthy, relatively young, fabulous, beautiful, kind woman. She lay in a coma and I stood by her bedside and prayed for a miracle, that she would come out of the coma, that they would shrink her enlarged heart, that her husband and sons would enjoy decades more with her. But the miracle didn’t happen, and eventually she died and it was awful.
I haven’t prayed for a miracle since, but last night as I was thinking about my cancer-diagnosed friend, I thought about miracles again. What if there was some rule that you could only get one miracle granted in the course of your lifetime? Would I hoard it for myself or my child or my husband, save it for a rainy day? Or would I be burdened by the miracle and offer it up the first ripe opportunity, and not be weighed down by the decision of when to use it? Would I not pray for the miracle and then regret it the rest of my life?
I know people who have experienced miracles. I know people who have experienced answers to prayer that they would call miraculous. I’ve only prayed for a miracle once, and it didn’t happen. And I know that should not be proof that God doesn’t grant miracles (or perform them? I’m not sure what verb to use.) But it’s hard to ask for something and get a ‘no’ and then be willing to ask again; harder to do that again and again and again. It leads to a world of disappointment and not a little bit of doubt about the good intentions of the Divine Creator.
Meanwhile the choir finished their Taize song and we had moved on to other prayers. I didn’t pray for a miracle last night. Instead, I went to light a candle, for my friend, and for a few others. I added a little light in the darkness, and in that moment, that felt better than a miracle.