Testimony: Miracles

Written by Tara, age 39, Special education teacher

The testimony of a Community miracle that I never thought would happen to me. As a Catholic, I lived like every other Catholic. I went to church when the spirit moved me or it was a holiday. My heart, mind, and soul were never really in balance to receive the word of the Lord. I never went to penance to ask for forgiveness. So without cleansing my heart, mind, and soul I never felt complete as a child of God.

Seven years ago, I met this family and at first I just thought I was going to help them clean and organize their house because they had so many children. A short time later I realized that this family needed me to do much more. They discovered that their 5th child, Michael, had a cancerous brain tumor. This saddened me because he seemed to be a vibrant little 4 year-old and I wrestled with his grim prognosis. How could he be in a place where he could die?

I continued to work for this family, trying to bring a healthy and enthusiastic attitude that would help them through one of the most difficult times of their life.  As the word got out that Michael was sick the whole community started to help out as well. This gave me hope, joy, and courage that this community could help beat this sickness by their sheer support. It also gave me a sense of belonging in the community that I never felt before. Each person gave of themselves;  their time, talents, and love. People brought food and dessert constantly, and gifts for the kids and little Mikey. Every prayer group in Syracuse lifted the family in prayer and some went back to church to pray for them, who hadn’t been in a very long time.  I truly believed that Michael was going to recover and healing would take place for everyone in this family. This was the first miracle that this community and I received; hope, faith and understanding of belonging to this mystical body of Christ with the Sovereign God as our head.

A short time later the worst happened and this family lost their son to brain cancer. This was a tragedy but a second miracle was right around the corner for this community and for myself. The second miracle was the rejoicing and the power of God’s love for this family and for the whole community.  Love surrounded this family and everyone involved, helping them find healing of mind, body, and soul. It was a miracle of healing that only comes from God and we witnessed it first hand and were a part of it.

While this family was healing a third miracle was brewing for me. A new pastor came into my life to bring healing to my mind, body and soul that I didn’t know I needed. He brought new knowledge about the bible and healing and the strong bond you could have with Jesus that I never had before. He told me to simply believe. He preached that everyone is a sinner, but if you ask God for forgiveness He will forgive you and bring you closer to His heart. I wanted to be closer to Jesus and God so I went to my first healing mass to ask God and Jesus for forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness was hard because I offered Jesus so much pain and imperfection. After my blessing my heart was filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with joy. While I was there at this healing mass I saw that family that had lost their son and I saw the true power of the Lord’s healing in both of these adults.

After the first healing blessing that I received I started to feel the power of the lord’s grace. From the grace of the Lord came love and I started to feel whole again and I wanted more. I attended a second healing mass, this time to be forgiven for the sins of my ancestors. Going to this healing mass was important to me because I felt as an adult I was making the same bad choices as some of my previous ancestors.  I knew that the power of the Lord’s grace healed my soul once from my own sins. Now, I wanted to be healed from the sins of the past. This mass brought me a calmness and peace that I never felt in my life time. I stopped feeling the pain and the guilt, which I constantly carried around with me. My soul seemed to be clear and focused. I want to keep my soul filled with the Lord’s power, the power of joy, calmness, and peace for the rest of my life. After this mass, I promised myself that I was going to live a clean and honest life. It has been two years now and through the power of God’s love and presence I have done this for my daughter and myself.

The power of the Lord’s grace and forgiveness can come into your life at any time. Miracles happen all the time if we are open to them and many times they come in unexpected ways. The will of God is strong and the will of His people is stronger because we come from his love and grace. I’ve been through a lot of tragedy in my life-time but I truly can say now that God has carried me through each one with the power of community love. I will never forget these lessons and I try hard to pass them around to everyone I meet.

Excuse me for a moment while I grieve

So flag day is around the corner.  June 14th is a biggie on my calendar.  In 2004 it became far more than a day to honor our country and banner of freedom; it became another date to honor and celebrate the life of a member of our family.  We welcomed a treasure, a gift and beautiful little soul, our 5th child and firstborn son, Michael.   We cared for him and loved him and doted on him and made plans for him and took a million pictures and passed them around like the proud parents we were.

Birthday celebrations in our house are usually disorganized and a little chaotic but we do our thing – decorate and have cake and presents.  They are nothing special by most standards but in our family they hold a special place in the fabric of our traditions.  We gather together (an increasingly rare phenomenon now that we’ve entered the busy teenager years) and joyfully celebrate the gift of the person we recognize and honor.  For me it is always a time to thank God for Blessing us so richly and abundantly, for gifting us with these little souls that are constantly defining the meaning of Love.  It is a time to celebrate the people they’ve been and are becoming through their accomplishments and goals.

This year Andrew will graduate from Kindergarten on Mikey’s birthday and surely it will be a momentous occasion and cause for celebration!   I know we will enjoy it (we’ve been through a few already!) and be proud of our son’s performance but beneath the surface we will be aware of the birthday celebration that we should be having later that day but won’t…  This particular birthday has become a time to mourn.

Instead of putting up festive decorations we will likely make our way to the cemetery to plant some flowers around the stone we had made with Michael’s sweet face etched on it.  We put a lot of thought and time and effort into that memorial stone but truthfully it’s little comfort.  It’s still just a stone.  And it rests on the grave that contains earthly remains of a beautiful and precious life gone too soon from this mother’s arms.   I find little comfort at the cemetery because everything I know and believe tells me that he’s not really there.  In fact a man gave his very life to assure me of that truth and that same God-man gave his very spirit to continuously erase the doubts and convict my heart of it.

And therein lies the comfort, the hope, the grace to smile, the Joy in the everyday.  In the midst of the cold and silent burial grounds arises the Promise of new LIFE – life everlasting.  Jesus came – and died – so that we would have life and have it more abundantly (Jn 10:10)

A dear friend recently related a story to me in which she was offering words of comfort to a friend who’s child was heading off to college.  This friend of hers was distraught at the idea that her little boy was all grown up and leaving the nest possibly never to return.  My friend’s words of comfort and wisdom went something like this. “Every moment of your life raising him has been geared to this moment of sending him off to be on his own”.

These are the same words of comfort my Lord and Savior offers to me.  Every moment of the 4 years, 2 months, 4 days and 14 hours of being Michael’s mom had eternity as its ultimate goal.    Furthermore our parting is only temporary, we will be together again.  In the meantime he has a future and a hope and he’s securely ensconced in the arms of His savior, exactly where he belongs.    And so I do this dance of healing and grieving all the while embracing Hope and Joy.  I straddle the gulf that exists between navigating this world and the promise of smooth sailing in the next.

I can’t say I want Michael back or wish he were still here with us – how could I possibly when I know where he is?  What kind of Love would wish a child of my womb out of paradise?  But I miss my little Mikey for this time that we are separated.  I miss what we had for 4 short years and grieve for what we never will in this life.  But I also trust wholeheartedly in the providence and sovereignty of the God of the universe.   He promised me, and all mankind, that He would be our God if we would be His people.  I rely on that promise, even when it means trusting that the death of my son will ultimately be for my good.  Even when it means that every day for the rest of my life I live without a treasured piece of my very own self.  The truth of the promise and the Joy that it holds is beyond compare.

I’ve become a new creation in every sense, in every area of my life, in every way that I can think of.  Tomorrow or next week or next month, by the grace of God, I will be made new yet again.  In fact, every time that familiar ache surfaces and I flee to that most sacred of hearts for solace and consolation I am being re-created, formed and shaped like the clay in the potter’s hand.  I have no choice but to surrender to the maker and creator and it’s a pretty great choice.

So my life will march on in the glorious splendor of birthdays and graduations and everything in between, but please excuse me for a moment while I grieve.

It will be but for a moment. The rewards will be everlasting.