Face Of The Day

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Ruthie and claire

Ruthie Leming and her daughter, Claire, at the hospital last Friday. Ruthie Leming has been recently diagnosed with cancer. This is a face of the day - rather than faces - not because Ruthie's is not animated but because her daughter's face seems to me to be quite remarkable. In my faith, God appears before us all the time and yet we do not see God's presence. But sometimes it is so over-powering even we cannot look away. This often happens in moments of great suffering and pain, in my experience, as if the veil we place over our eyes to protect ourselves from God's overwhelming love is somehow lifted paradoxically by suffering. I have never felt closer to God than during some of the worst moments of my life.

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Leming happens to be Rod Dreher's sister. His heart-felt dispatch from earlier in the week:

All the praying, the begging, the anguishing, the fasting -- and there has been no miracle. She's still very sick indeed. I realized tonight that in my frenzy to call the attention of God to my sister's plight and to convince him to heal her, I've been playing a kind of saints roulette, trying to hit on the right saint to ask prayers of, as if somehow my placing a bet on the right saint's name would make an electric connection with heaven, and divine energy would course right down to my sister's hospital room and save her, bam, just like that.

I know it doesn't work that way. Believe me, I do.

But I don't know what else to say to God, or the saints, on my sister's behalf. I know this isn't like a courtroom, in which I need to come up with the cleverest argument to convince the judge that my sister's life is worth saving. I know that magical thinking is a fallacy. I know that the communion of saints is not like a cocktail party in which I'm the wild-eyed stranger who's walked in off the street and is annoying partygoers by interrupting their conversations to see who can spare the time to come out and help me get my car unstuck from the snowbank on the curb.

But I don't know what else to do. And it's not working.

I recommend Rod's many posts in this subject:

1. My sister has cancer

2. The theology of illness

3. Hospital in Baton Rouge

4. When prayer seems futile

5. Our beautiful, horrible cancer day

6. Andy Crouch's three last things

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