Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, May 29, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

They took me into the emergency room at midnight and cut me open from Los Angeles to Boston. They scooped out a lot of my inside stuff. The pale oncologist said I’d be dead in “a year or two.” The Nazi nurses made me get up and walk when I could barely sit up, yet alone walk. My surgeon forgot I was in the hospital. It was two o’clock in the morning. My roommate was snoring like he was a chainsaw trying to beat a lawn blower in a hearing-loss contest. I felt pretty sorry for myself. Then I realized that even at that unholy hour, there was surely some sleepless somebody who was praying for me. I was miserable, but I was not alone.

I’m not at all sure about the why and how of intercessory prayer, praying for others, especially bending the will of an already-merciful God to be a little more merciful, but I know there is a lot of spiritual energy floating around. No one understands how or why or when it “works,” but sometimes it does.

Strangely, prayer is the only healing tool of which we require perfection. Surgery sometimes doesn’t work, but we keep using it. Chemotherapy doesn’t always work, but we keep using it. Prayer doesn’t work? Then forget it. That old saying applies here: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Before the hospital, I had done a lot of intercessory prayer, but I had never before really considered, existentially, that other folks prayed for me. When I think about it now, that people have been praying for me for a very long time, it occurs to me that they haven’t done a very good job.

I am a boiling cauldron of ambition and lust and greed and anger and negativity. Well, I used to be. Now I’m just a simmering pot of muttering and ennui and lethargy and inertia, which is all the more reason to expect some help from prayer. I mean, good pray-ers ought to be able to do something about a simmering pot, even if they can’t calm a boiling cauldron. 

If people have really been praying for me, then intercessory prayer must be useless. How come I have made so many mistakes if people have been praying for me?

Then, however, I think about how much worse I would be without those prayers through the years, and it looks like the folks who prayed for me didn’t do all that badly after all.

Thank you.


I tweet as yooper1721.

NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, is published in two editions by AndrewsMcMeel, in audio by HarperAudio, and in Czech and Japanese translations. It’s incredibly inexpensive at many sites on the web. Naturally I’d rather you bought it, but apparently you can download it for free on, It says “Download 2048.”

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