Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Thinking--National Day of Prayer

George Washington praying at Valley Forge

The past few weeks I've been immersed in U.S. History. I've been studying, reading, listening, watching, thinking and discussing it with Calvin. While Calvin's study has inspired him to memorize the Declaration of Independence, mine has mostly just made me think and wonder. I'm nearly convinced that even our heralded Presidents would have been vilified today by their spiritual convictions.

Today is the National Day of Prayer as instituted by President Truman over 50 years ago. I wonder if our political society today would even allow such a suggestion. Regardless of religion, prayer plays a vital role in many societies--including our family. Whenever I need a prayer story, I am reminded of this incident:

When Calvin and I began our family, it was like having two chiefs in one teepee, because we had two oldest children— Trevor, who was the oldest child from Calvin’s first marriage, and Cali. When Trevor came to live with us permanently there was some jostling for the oldest-child position.

Trevor had a dog named Badger; Cali had a cat named Tiger. One day, while Trevor was mad at Cali, he sic’ed Badger on Tiger. He didn’t mean true harm, he just wanted to get back at Cali, but Badger’s jaws clamped on Tiger’s head before he could be stopped.

I was peeling potatoes in the kitchen and had no idea what had happened until Cali came into the house crying and carrying Tiger—who had a very misshaped head and was gasping for each wheeze. Cali told me what had happened and said, “What do we do? Should we try to help him get better or do we have dad put him to sleep?”

I didn’t know what to do. At that point, putting him to sleep looked like the humane thing to do and yet what if he could recover? Since I didn’t have an answer and family peace was on the line, I suggested she go into her bedroom, kneel down and pray because God would know what to do.

We made a little bed in the corner of the kitchen out of old towels for Tiger and while I continued to peel potatoes and listen to the death rattle in the corner, Cali went off to her room. She came back ten minutes later and said, “We’re supposed to let him live.” We began to fix him a comfortable place in a box so the younger kids wouldn’t bump him.

Later, I asked Cali how she came to the answer to let him live. She said, “Well, at first I said, ‘Heavenly Father I think we should have dad put Tiger to sleep so he doesn’t suffer’ and as soon as I said it I felt squished inside and like I couldn’t breathe. And so I said, ‘I mean, I mean, I mean . . . I think we should let him live.’ And then, I could breathe. I didn’t know it would feel like that, I thought it would feel like Christmas or like my cousins were coming or something like that, but it doesn’t, (when you get an answer to a prayer) it just feels like you can breathe.”

The next morning Tiger was still alive. He lived a few more years, though his skull was never quite shaped the same after that day.

Prayer. It makes you feel like you can breathe. Regardless of whether or not it is officially recognized, I recognize its vital place in our history.


hennchix said...


Julie said...

"You can just breathe". I agree, answers to prayers are like that. Are you studying history in prep for your trip?

Rebecca said...

Your story made me have to blink back some tears. Maybe because I've been thinking about a child's capacity to understand "bigger" things. Thanks for sharing, it helped my understanding! Out of the mouth of babes!

HeatherM said...

Absolutely profound. Love it.

Lucy said...

You're great, Jane. What a teaching moment.

Prayer is one of those things that can never be adequately explained to critics. All I know is how I feel afterward, and the focus and answers and peace I receive, and that's enough for me.

Happy National Day of Prayer - yesterday:)

Jill said...

This is so touching. What a blessing for Cali to learn what an answered prayer feels like at such a young age!

Marie said...

That is a great story. Just fabulous. It needs to be in a Friend article.

tina said...

I love that story! How precious!

Kim Sue said...

that's feels like you can just breathe...I will remember that for the rest of my life