The door opened, and it was as though the curtain parted.
I thought she might be the one, but there was whisper of doubt.
I had not actually met her, you understand; I had only been one of thousands who had prayed for her over a long period of time when she was hanging precariously between life and death. Life lived from a distance creates that cushion that sometimes prevents our bridging a four-year gap. But still....there was an unsettling familiarity when she walked into the store where I worked today.
Something in the way she moves...
I am drawing closer, inexplicably. I step into her space and ask gently, Are you Nicole?
This healthy brunette with deep brown eyes speaks back to me, Yes. Her strong body today stands juxtaposed to the fragile one I had imagined during Nicole Marquez's journey back to the land of the living. Flashbacks to her mother's faithful entries flooded my memory as I remembered Susan Marquez's story of her daughter's most difficult performance yet on the stage of New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Day after day. Week after grueling week. Then month after month... We have no idea what it was like to live it; I only observed from a distance, never as her parents.
I am especially mindful of similar struggles as we enter into the waiting, suffering and praying with others who are recovering from brain surgery and fighting back cancer among our close friends. To have compassion is to enter into suffering, and nothing parts the curtains like prayer. Prayer exposes suffering.
Once exposed and made aware, we have a choice to make: Do we have empathy enough to take on another's burdens, or do we merely stay informed about their status? Is it all about our convenience or about the others' needs? Compassion enables us to experience a portion of the shared burden when we willingly embrace the journey with another. Compassion is a mystery in the making.
I only wrote. I commented. I prayed. I hugged Larry. But I never met Nicole. I was merely a bystander, one of the masses, and I'm not proud of that as I realize that Nicole is standing with me today.
But there she is before me, and I know: I am in the presence of a miracle! A walking, dancing, speaking miracle of determination, guts and Grace of God.
My children know that I've always wanted to be a dancer. But today the real dancer entered stage right and let me rejoice in her spectacular role in this chapter of Nicole's life. It may not be the life she thought she prepared for, but it is the life she is fully prepared to live. Nicole is still bearing witness to the truth of her original rallying cry: You can't stop this dancer!
The day ends with thanksgiving for healing mercies for Nicole and for others among us for whom we pray faithfully. Let us not be too busy to share what we have, for the Lord God will multiply whatever we offer making it sufficient. I believe it. Our limited resources--time, money, talent--invested in God's economy produce an incalculable yield. There's no stopping it!
Thanks be to God.