The Prayer of a Stranger
Upon waking in the recovery room from my recent surgery, I realized that I couldn’t breathe. I gasped and gasped, trying to scream to let someone know that I couldn’t get enough air. Soon a nurse was at my bedside, placing an oxygen mask over my face, asking me questions about my asthma history that I couldn’t answer. Apparently she added a breathing treatment to the flow of oxygen and I was soon able to draw in air without so much struggle.
After about 10 minutes on the oxygen I was relaxed and the nurse was working around me to disconnect the breathing mask. As she stooped by the head of my bed she whispered to me, in such a way that I’m not sure if I was meant to hear it or not.
She said, “I’ll be praying for you.”
For all of my openness in the blogging sphere, I’m actually a fairly private person in real life. I find it somewhat embarrassing to have strangers take such an interest in my life merely because of my physical disability. Yet at the same time, I’m continually surprised by those like the nurse, and my many religious friends, who are willing to be so kind as to pray for me.
In the past I’ve written some posts about the ways I feel pitied and demeaned because of my disability. I still feel that way much of the time–especially when someone’s action seems to be more about making themselves feel good than about offering aid. But even as I feel uncertain about the actual power of prayer, I am not ambivalent about the power of human connection. There’s something beautiful and courageous, and curiously intimate, about a stranger or a friend offering a prayer on my behalf.
Though I ceased praying in the Mormon fashion awhile ago, I still spend time each day in silent meditation. Doing so gives me perspective on my life. It helps me to remember what I believe and to put my actions in line with my core values. I can’t claim that my prayers or my meditations have improved anyone else’s life, even though I think often of others as I sit in silence.
I suspect that I won’t ever approach a stranger and tell them that I praying for them. But in my own way I am saying a prayer each time I write a blogpost–sending my thoughts, hopes, and intentions out into the ether. Hoping that each of you will know that I care about you and your trials even if I no longer have the faith to couch my intentions into the form of a prayer.