It has taken 50 years to find the words to write this story.
“I have no words,” is often what is blurted out when trying to describe a life-pivoting experience. The words that tumble out next try to capture the exuberance or weight of the moment. But these words are often inadequate, and the explanation seems to belittle the experience.
The healing of my sister, Pauline, was a “no words” experience. There will never be adequate words to tell this story. But, then, in another “no words” moment, I sat in stunned silence as an obvious idea emerged: Since I was 7 when this story happened, I can tell this story as my 7-year-old self to other 7-year-olds. For me, this is a story for children.
So I found some words and wrote What To Do When God Shows Up. It is important that this story doesn’t get lost or become an anecdote, a myth, or a sidenote that may or may not have happened. This story is true. It happened and it was miraculous.
The telling of this story comes with hesitancy. Not everyone experiences this version of a miraculous outcome. There is nothing special about our family, or Pauline, that would warrant such a miracle.
The counterpoint to this story of healing, is the story of the death of my mother. I was in college when mom was diagnosed with cancer. She died six months later. Her body was not healed. She did not remain on earth with us. God’s healing for her was in heaven. This was a painful, faith shaking experience. It will always be a tender place.
But our family was still faithful throughout mom’s illness and death. We still prayed and sang, told stories and hugged each other, sought God through the pain just like when it was Pauline who was suffering.
Mom’s death came with feelings of betrayal and anger, complete loss and utter despair. Grief. But what I found as I plunged to the bottom of that endless pit was that God was already there waiting to catch me. I remember this distinctly and know that it is true.
God does not always answer as we wish, or as we pray. God does not answer to us. God is a mystery that none of us can understand. Anything less would be an idol.
Where we see God is in each other and in the entirety of creation. God is everywhere. It is impossible to be anywhere that God is not.
Pauline lived. That is the miracle told in What To Do When God Shows Up.
Mom died. And that story, although it doesn’t have a book, was also surrounded by miracles.
What is the same in these two stories is that God was present. God was present in all the small miracles leading up to the healing of Pauline; God was present in all the small miracles leading up to mom’s death.
When we recognize God in each other, we see the smallest of actions as miraculous. It is here in our everyday lives that God lives. That little smile, a kind word, a shared laugh, a drawing or note, a story or snack shared, inviting someone to join in. All these little moments may be just the miracle someone else needs.
Everyone has a version of this story because God shows up in each of us. The words will always be inadequate, but the stories need to be told.
What words will you use to tell someone about your “no words” moments?