Monday, May 16, 2011

On Being Useful

Prayer. It seems like that's what ought to occur to a Catholic first in facing trouble. But Americans like to do stuff. We're a practical people, so we tell ourselves. Turns out I'm more of an American than I am a Christian.

We have friends up north - about 700 miles away - who have been going through agonies. She has Parkinsons and two months ago had an abdominal operation that refuses to heal. The details are gruesome and I won't repeat them here. She's been in and out of hospital the whole two months. Mostly in. Her husband has hardly seen their home in that time, taking care of her and trying to keep the medicos paying attention. Now he's got flu and can't get in to see her at all. Fear of infection. Fortunately, they have other family in the area. They're good friends of ours and we've prayed for them the whole time (and if you want to, too, a Hail Mary for Geraldine and Tony wouldn't go amiss). But it feels inadequate. There's still the need to do something.

And Hilary has been a daily read here for a long time. You probably know she's been facing a difficult time. But distance once again frustrates the practical American instincts. 10,000 miles or so is a bit far to bring a casserole. TSA wouldn't let us on the plane with it anyway. Can't drive her anywhere, can't do the marketing, can't mind the cat.

One is forced to be a Catholic. It's a shame that prayer seems like second-best.

Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.

("Maybe if You were to pass a miracle. . . ." he thought, looking hopefully skyward. "Or two.")