July 26, 2019

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Simple suggestion leads to discovering the power of prayer

Debra TomaselliDad and I stepped into my house, took a deep breath, and paused. We’d just returned from a trip to the ICU at a local hospital where my brother, at age 33, was clinging to life, battling kidney failure.

Saddened, I glanced at Dad. How could he suffer the loss of a beloved son? How could I endure the loss of an adored brother? We loved Jim. My feet were slipping on the shifting sands of time.

Nobody realized we were home yet. Standing in the foyer, I heard my husband playing Uno with the kids and the sounds of their laughter coming from the family room. I heard the timer on the stove start beeping. I heard the baby start to cry.

I took a deep breath.

Dad, too, paused. Our eyes met. Just pondering Jim’s condition made me tremble with fear. My stomach was in knots. I felt overwhelmed. I was scared … very scared.

Dad looked at me. “Let’s pray,” he suggested.

How? I’d never prayed for anything like this before. Perhaps I had never really prayed. Sure, I had whispered a few desperate pleas enlisting God to try to talk my parents into buying a horse for me, or getting an “A” on a math exam, or to help me arrive to work on time.

But I’d never felt as hopeless as this.

In the past, although I prayed wholeheartedly for a particular outcome, I knew life would go on even if I didn’t get the horse, the “A”, or, say, if I arrived late.

But I wasn’t so sure I could live without my brother. Pray? I did not know what to say, indeed, I wasn’t sure I could trust in God.

My father spoke first. “I’m not so good at making up my own prayers, like some people can do,” he said. “How about we just say three Hail Mary’s together?”

He reached for my hand.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” we began. Together, we prayed.

Surprisingly, with each succeeding prayer my anxiety lessened. By the third recitation, an all-encompassing peace settled over me.

Dad and I headed to the family room, where we joined my husband and children. Joe handed me the baby and I cradled her with love. The kids, Lynn, 7, and Jenna, 3, raced to tell me the fun they had while I was gone. They grabbed the Uno cards.

“Want to play?” they asked.

“Sure,” I said. I took a seat beside them while Joe finished cooking dinner.

That night, I was filled with appreciation for my family.

And somehow, in spite of Jim’s declining condition, I felt strangely calm from that day forward.

All because of three ordinary prayers, delivered by the two of us.

Prayers, broken and shared.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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