I was fast asleep on the train on the way home from Prince of Wales hospital Wednesday (the joys of the tilt back chair) when I was woken by a gentleman offering me his business card to “Padstow healing rooms” and weekly healing meetings on Thursday night.
My initial thought was to offer him a phone number for Weight Watchers. He could, after all, benefit from their services and presumably he would be happy for people out of the blue to offer him weight-loss advice…
I resisted the temptation and accepted his card. Elly certainly didn’t understand my frustration and, to be honest, I’m not sure I did either. Certainly, my internal dialogue was obnoxious – what right had I to judge any one’s weight, especially in the light of my own “pregnancy” (see previous blog).
Yet the fact is that I experienced an immediate visceral annoyance, one that surprised me. It is fascinating how our own minds can be a mystery to us, and the question I was left to ask myself is, why did this offer of prayer annoy me? Maybe I don’t have enough faith or perhaps I have some latent disappointment with God, given the thousands of prayers that have yet gone unanswered.
More likely the difficulty was with the nature of the approach. This out of the blue offer of prayer felt a little like a Saturday morning cold call doorknock by a Jehovah’s Witness. It felt like I was being “sold” something – a business card, a prayer, a miracle.
Perhaps more likely again, I just don’t like being “that poor man in a chair who needs pity and prayer.” Of course at one level I am pitiable and I do need prayer – but aren’t we all and don’t we all? What I want is to be treated the same as any other person. If I’m asleep on the train, left to rest. If I have my head in a book, left to read. If I seem to be open to conversation, chat away. No topic is off-limits (well, almost none). Talk about the chair and the body by all means – they are a big part of my life. But strangers on a train shouldn’t launch straight in with an offer of a miracle. They just don’t know enough about me to presume they have the answer to my problem.
Having said this, please understand that I value your prayers and I know many of you pray that I might get out of the chair. Such prayers are an expression of your love and that means a lot to me. The truth is, however, I don’t expect a miracle and I am not looking for one. That might disappoint some of you. It might seem like a capitulation, the elevation of doubt over faith. I think, however, that faith is best expressed by taking life as it comes, by making the most of it.
Of course, according to this measure, getting annoyed at well-meaning healers is unfaithful and uncharitable. Next time I will let him pray for me then and there. Not because I expect his prayer to be more effective than that of my family and friends, but because faith is gracious and I don’t want to be a surly toad.