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Long Distance Prayers on Thanksgiving

The alert went out to all the familial prayer resources for help and some sort of miracle.

Guideposts: A man's hands, clasped in prayer, rest on the pages of an open Bible

It was a crazy, lovely, but also worrying holiday and a reminder to me that answered prayers come through the help of others, lots of others.

On Thanksgiving Day Dad couldn’t get out of bed and was rushed from his nursing home to the E.R. Mom met him there and helped him get checked in before rushing back to continue with the turkey and stuffing and gravy. The alert went out to all the familial prayer resources for help and some sort of miracle and whatever anyone with a spiritual discipline could provide.

But I wasn’t there. Carol and I were thousands of miles away visiting our younger son Tim in Italy where he’s been studying. Nobody wanted to give us the bad news about Dad because nobody wanted to spoil our trip. Finally an email leaked out and the text messages flew back and forth in the midst of a feast prepared by Tim’s host mother who wanted to make sure these Americans had a real Thanksgiving dinner (down to the cranberry sauce made from cranberries I smuggled in my luggage).

If only I could be there, I thought, awash in anxiety on a day meant for gratitude.

“The dinner was fabulous,” we said to Tim’s host mother, “buonissimmo, favoloso” in the vernacular. We returned to our hotel, but I didn’t sleep much, waking up wondering what I was supposed to do. Pray, was the advice my head said. But what to say? I just want Dad to be comfortable and know he’s loved. That was my deepest hope.

“Condition: guarded” came the early reports and then “’improved” and then “sitting up in bed and eating strawberry ice cream,” which sounded a lot better. As for my prayer request, it was answered through the ministrations of my family, all those visitors at Dad’s bedside. That’s what families do well. They show up, they cover for you when you’re not around, they fill you in, they keep the love going at close distance when you’re at long distance. 

Dad will be in the hospital for a while, but I give thanks for my family who continue to remind me that the best I am and best I could hope to be comes from them. 

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