Something to celebrate

On Thursday we celebrated our daughter Jodi’s graduation from Washington and Lee University. We are very proud of her and what she has accomplished. It is that time of year. Lots of transitions. Lots of celebrations. But I clapped with particular joy when Jodi’s classmate Natalie walked across the stage to receive her diploma. “Natalie’s comeback” was one of the things noted as memorable in the President’s remarks.

Eighteen months ago I received a text message from my daughter telling me that her friend and housemate Natalie had been in a terrible car accident. This vital 20 year old collegiate champion sprinter was on a ventilator. The next 48 hours would be critical. I texted back one word, “praying.” When you get news like this, you don’t wait. You already are.

What a moment that was. I pictured the young, strong girl I knew, now fighting for her life. No surgery would save her. Her rib cage smashed. Her lungsseverelydamaged. She could not breathe on her own. I pictured this mother, at the bedside of her daughter who might not make it to Christmas.

I admit, I did not pray “God’s will be done” in this circumstance. But how does one pray? There are no words. I went on the Caring Bridge site and read the notes of encouragement left by people supporting Natalie and her family. They prayed for the ‘usual’ stuff – praying for you, for complete healing, for your strength. Thankfully, no one wrote, “this was God’s will for her.”

One prayer struck me so profoundly that I wrote itdownin my journal. It was from a six year old girl named Maggie who didn’t actually know Natalie. She wrote “for Joe’s like 20 year old cousin, that she’ll not have a hurt lung so she can breathe.” And that said it all. How do we get so tongue tied when we get older?

This Thursday, I applauded Natalie as she graduated with her class. I saw her later as we moved out some furniture and couldn’tquite get over the healthy, whole and delightfully spunky young woman that greeted us. This was God’s will standing in front of me, and I was dumb-struck with awe. That’s when Jodi’s words from the fall semester came back to me, “Mom, Nat is back! It’s nothing short of a miracle.”

I’m not sure how my prayers intersect with God’s will, but I know it’s so simple even a child can do it. What do we teach them? At the intersection, “stop-look-listen.” The Spirit adds…repeat.

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