To the One in Charge,
I’ve started this letter four times already and nothing seems quite right. It should be easy–I pray to you everyday–but it’s not. It’s hard. Maybe because my reason for writing isn’t easy either. Of course, if you are who you say you are, you know exactly why I’m writing which makes this a seemingly pointless exercise, but then, if you are who you say you are, things like this, like me writing on a scrap of paper to ask you for something, can change things.
So here I go.
We need you here.
I don’t mean that in a rhetorical sense. I mean we need you here. Right here. In this town, in early November, in a very real way. I mean I have a dear friend who is facing something so unexpected, so ugly and scary, that I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. Except that I do. I wish it was happening to someone else so she and I could talk about it together in passing, while trading kids or over lunch, and shake our heads while reminding ourselves that life is fragile. Then we’d move on to the weather and our plans for the weekend and forget.
I’d like to forget about this but I can’t, and I know my friend never will. Even though denial seems like the best option now, while my brain stumbles around the information and my head pounds in rebellion, I know this is not something we can wake up from, that will disappear, or even be made right. Unless, of course, you step in. Because although I’m not sure what I believe right now, I don’t see any other option besides some holy intervention.
So what exactly do I want you to do?
I want you to show up.
To show up like you did for Elijah. Surely you remember the time you sent flames to lick the wet wood your prophet had doused with water? Did his heart tremble when he called on you to do the impossible; to light a fire when there was not even a spark, only a trench full of water around a dripping altar? And what did the others think–those who had spent hours calling on other deities, dancing and even slashing themselves in the frenzy, without an answer? As they looked on, watching Elijah put you to the test, did he whisper, quivering with doubt, or shout his demands? “Answer me, O Lord, answer me so that these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
If you can cause fire to fall from the sky and a frantic crowd to fall in worship, surely you can do something here. Something that would reverse, undo, and transform. Like a healing. I’m whispering and shouting at the same time now. Whispering because it seems impossible; shouting because I mean it. I’m pleading for action. A miracle to mystify physicians and family is what I really want, but if you’re not going to renew sinew and bone then pour out your power just the same and do a mighty work with soul and spirit. Redeem something from this ugly mess of multiplying cells. Because if sunsets and babies’ breath are the only signs of you then this prayer isn’t worth anything. If we can only feel you in the lovely why should anyone turn to you in the ugly?
But you seem to be in the business of showing up in the middle of ugliness, like the filth of a stable and a violent execution. I can’t know this for sure though, that you birthed yourself into a real, live infant and bled on a cross, because I wasn’t around two thousand years ago. It’s only what I’ve read and what I’ve been taught. And believe me, it’s easy enough to doubt all of it. But when I start at square one and evaluate the alternatives I come back empty-handed and humbled. What are the chances any of us ended up here to question you in the first place? How else could we shake our fists at you, ignore you, or yearn for you on this freckle of earth in the face of the exploding universe if you didn’t put us here? In other words, you started all this so you better finish it. You started something when you created us from nothing. You started something when you took your first breath through the lungs of a newborn. You started something when you died. And you started something when you knit together the one for whom I’m praying. So I’ll wait for you. I will wait for the big finish. Knowing, hoping, doubting, and believing all at the same time, you’ve showed up.