Silent prayer, but somebody heard

Elise T. Chisolm

April 06, 1993|By Elise T. Chisolm

It was the second day of the blizzard of '93. We couldn't get out of our house. At noon my husband felt nauseated. An hour later he had pain down his left arm. I knew that this was a bad sign and called 911.

While I waited, I calmly packed our overnight bags. The fire engine got stuck on our main road and the paramedic unit couldn't get into our cul-de-sac. From there on, it was a scene that could have been on the television show "Rescue 911."

Four heroic rescue people braved several feet of snow and carried my husband without a stretcher to the truck. They told me not to come along. I couldn't get a car out anyway.

Two wonderful neighbors sat with me for awhile.

Then I was alone. I needed to be alone.

As the sun was setting, my husband had a major heart attack at the hospital. A doctor called to ask permission to use a life-saving drug. Permission was granted and he was stabilized.

It was after that that my calmness left me. I went upstairs and made the bed. I tried to kneel by the bed to pray, but I couldn't concentrate.

I ran around the house like a chicken with its head cut off. I washed the kitchen floor where the firemen had tracked in snow and mud. I vacuumed. I cursed the snow, and I started beseeching, "Dear God let him live until our 50th wedding anniversary April 23; let him live until August when our grandchild is getting married."

"God, I'll do anything," I bargained, as I put the dishes in the dishwasher. "I promise I won't nag him about his diabetic diet anymore."

I tried to keep rushing. I turned on the television.The TV screen blurred, danced, in some crazy cacophony. I was still in an altered state of anxiety. I picked up his Bible, and the words seemed motionless, hollow.

"Dear God, he loves spring, let him see the first of our daffodils," I pleaded.

4 Then I lay down on our bed. The cat, next to me.

And I found I could pray.

A blanket of tranquillity came over me, and after a midnight call to the cardiologist who told me that my husband was doing well, I slept.

But why is prayer so elusive sometimes? I pray every day, but not on my knees.

Due to the religious fanaticism sweeping our world, have I been reluctant, scared to show my faith? Yes. Across our global village, seeds of intolerance, hatred, war, bloodshed have been sown in the name of God.

If only we could keep our beliefs to ourselves. Quietly.

In my own Gethsemane at 5 the next morning, I remembered something in a recent church bulletin.

Written by the Rev. Thomas Kryder-Reid, a personal account: "How often do we really know how to pray? How many times have I knelt down, folded my hands, closed my eyes, bowed my head and words just didn't come. Or I get so busy putting words together that I forget what I wanted to pray about, and irrelevant thoughts start intruding."

He quotes from St. Theresa of Avila -- "Pray as you can, not as you can't."

While I was flying through my house beseeching, going bonkers in frantic busyness, I was praying. Someone heard.

My husband survived and he has seen the first daffodil. The snow has melted. Passover and Easter are here.

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