we grew up praying each night as a family.
it was a tradition that we enjoyed as children, during that time that we needed structure and guidance in our lives. it was a constant reminder that we are loved. it was also a gentle reminder to always love one another.
mother was our anchor. she was our example. she remained our foundation, the rock on which we built our faith, the garden that nurtured our beliefs.
trouble came with our teen years, as each of us struggled with individuality (we were five different souls, by the way). we came to regard the regularity of prayer as cumbersome, repetitive, and useless in our lives. we were exposed to friends who did not seem to care for prayers, yet appeared cool. we struggled against the hierarchy of school, and resisted the indoctrination that was the basis of our faith (it was dry, intellectual, and boring).
add on the experience of college life, where you learn about liberation theology. that your faith must be lived through your acts, especially in your primary preference for the poor. and your idealism was at an all time high. you go out wanting the change the world, and heaven help the folks who tried to stop you.
we struggled with the poor. we lived their lives.
and the call came for something more.
i spent a few days living with our jesuit priests, those vibrant souls who loved God and used their gifts uplifting others. i spent a day in discernment… and realized that i did not belong in a seminary.
with medical training, i realized that i can actually do more to help other people. so began the next few years of medical school. we were initiated into the profession that studied the mysteries and wonders of the human body. it began as dehumanizing and demoralizing grunt work, being forced to memorize facts and figures. the schism of your personhood was completed after a year in the anatomy laboratory (the smell of formalin disappears and you actually ate in front of a dissected and well-preserved body).
you began to see patients as bodies, not persons, and referred to them according to the symptoms of disease they present.
and then your medical practice started. you learn and discover that each person is unique. you realize that there are seldom any clear cut answers when it comes to explaining a person’s malady. there is talk of standardizing care, but it frustrates you no end to see patients continually falling out of the pathways of care.
the circle completes when, at the bedside of a patient who refuses to get well despite your best efforts, you begin to pray.
then… a miracle… happens. you discover that prayer gives you power and grace. that it has been struggling to grow out from you, to reach out and touch others.
we pray with our young children each night, a gesture reminiscent of our parent’s love for us… a constant reminder that there is a God living with us and changing the world through us.
we pray that through the trials these children will face in the future, these small acts today will serve as a memory for them to cherish and hold on to. to grow inside them as a seed, blossoming during those times when grace is needed, and allowing them to live a full life.