This past week my wife, Marion received word of a small nodule that was found on a recent mammogram. It's tiny, less than a millimeter, but obviously it has shaken us up, especially since her mother died of breast cancer when Marion was in college. She had the needle biopsy on Friday and now we wait. Three to five business days of waiting.
Friends and relatives have been praying and sending their best wishes for a clean bill of health for her. Even our dog has been nuzzling up to Marion more than me lately, which is unusual for him as he is very attached to me.
At mass today the words that are read after the Our Father ask God to "protect us from all anxiety" which I often find comforting, but today they took on new meaning...as we wait, we realize that anxiety is something that does indeed occur with life's many travails. The following line is the one that really is more important:
"As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior Jesus Christ."
There's nothing like a medical scare to make you realize that indeed we all need God, that we are not God and therefore we are not in control. Try as we might to protect ourselves from anxiety, it often still finds us and those restless hearts will only rest easy once they rest in God.
Recently, I reported that a Bishop from Great Britain mentioned that Facebook was a considerable factor in the rise of teen suicide. He cautioned that all this technology keeps us alienated from one another. While the Bishop makes a good point about how technology can certainly alienate us greatly, it also connects us as well. With my wife's permission I asked my facebook friends to pray for her on my status update. Within a half hour something amazing happened over 30 people quickly jotted a simple word and maybe a few extra sentences as well. That simple word was "prayers" and it made me feel connected to people that I know well and to many that I haven't heard from in awhile. Friends from retreats and ministry circles, high school, college, family and even my old radio colleagues all weighed in with their own prayers. Some simply said "prayers" and that one word is more than enough to connect me and my wife to them in union with the whole church. Perhaps that's an experience that the Bishop hasn't had but it is one that is worth noting.
And it would not have happened without this technology.
As different as many of us might be religiously (even some of us who share a Catholic faith), nobody ever seems remotely offended when another asks for someone to pray for them or for someone they care about. Even those who might not believe in God don't find it an awful exercise to send a good wish or thought someone's way. We all like and need to pray for each other.
And quite often we don't. It often takes a tragedy for me to remember someone else in prayer or to even pray with someone else. A priest friend of mine always mentions names of people who have asked him to pray for them when we have a shared prayer of the faithful. That impressed me, so much so that I started keeping a log of people to pray for on my blackberry.
So God asks much of us when He asks us to be mindful of Him in prayer. We note how out of control we are and how we need God's help. But we also know that we need the help of others to show us God's care for us as well. It is in the others who become the face of God for us in our toughest moments...those moments of anxiety, that we often seek protection from ...it is in those others that indeed God helps us to find gratitude, when fear can easily take over.
I'm fairly confident that my wife will be fine. Whatever this is, it is tiny...less than a millimeter. So even in the worst case, this should be easy to defeat, especially for a strong woman like my wife. Others face things far worse and far more daunting than we are this week.
But perhaps it is in the others who have touched our hearts this week with their simple prayers where God is calling me to be most mindful.
And to become more like them as a person of prayer...who helps God protect us from all anxiety.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.