Earlier this week, my eldest son Ian celebrated his 36th birthday. He is the answer to a lot of prayers, but at the time of his birth I experienced my greatest crisis of faith in my then short 25-year life.
Ian was the younger of undiagnosed twins. It was the first pregnancy in our young marriage; we were very excited. Due to an error by an inexperienced GP in England, my wife Sally went into labor 9 weeks early. We raced to the hospital and shortly thereafter became the parents of Michael and Ian. Michael was a mere 3lbs 5oz, Ian a little bigger at 3lb 10oz. Both were 17 inches long and identical twins.
That night, were we both elated and scared. For other reasons my wife had limited access to premature baby ward. Both Michael and Ian were hooked up to equipment which dwarfed their tiny bodies and were barrier nursed in incubators. We prayed for their survival. Michael didn’t make it, he passed on the 16th November 1981.
We had experienced the gift of life and the loss of a child all within 24 hours. It’s hard, even after all these years to process what it meant to us. Just over a month later, Ian was strong enough to come home, tiny though it was, he was a survivor and a precious gift from God.
Even today, I can still recall the feeling of the unanswered prayers given up for Michael. And yet, they were answered. Just not in the selfish way we desired them at the time. Our family has been blessed with three other children, and now their children. Ian has two of his own and one more due early next year.
I often say to others, God is not a ATM machine for our wishes. We cannot just place prayers, novenas or acts of goodwill in the deposit slot and expect something in return. We will receive from God, but what we need to move closer to Him, not what we want to satisfy our own personal needs. Times like this, remind me of the gift we have of all the souls gone before us, praying for us, looking after us. Whether family, saints or the Holy family, we can all stay safe in the warmth of each other. Those here and now in a Thanksgiving celebration, and those above who will look after our spiritual well-being.
A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all of us, and our families.
He sits on the floor of his grandfather’s house,
Granddad has just passed, and he waits for the funeral tomorrow.
An electric fire beams warmth,
And his Texas workplace sends last minute tasks over the night air.
Pondering the work,
I watch with joy the man he has become.
The twin who survived those 36 years ago,
While his brother, watches out for him, above, but ever present in his life.
Meanwhile, the tiny child has grown,
Not only in stature, but in love.
Surrounded by more, he spreads the joy to others,
Always relying on the power of another.
Who lives within and without … eternally.