If you are colon-averse, you might want to stop reading right now. A week ago today my husband Andy had a resection of his colon. The doctor acted like it was no big deal. “I love doing these things,” he said. My husband and I do not love “doing these things.” But I guess I’d rather have a doc who cuts people open with enthusiasm rather than one who dreads the work. As usual I struggled for prayer words on the day of the surgery.
So while Andy was in surgery, I sat in the waiting room and prayed in color. This is not the first time I have done this. Five years ago when Andy had open-heart surgery, my friends Randall and Sharon and I sat in the hospital cafeteria and drew prayers for him. Here they are:
The presence of friends who joined me in prayer was an experience of both surrender and power. We were surrendering Andy and ourselves to the care of God, knowing we were surrounded by the power of God. The three very different ways we drew remind me of the infinite number of ways we reach out to God bringing our own unique words and experience.
As I sat alone in the hospital waiting room this past week, dozens of other people also waited for their friends and loved ones undergoing surgery. We were drinking coffee, talking on phones, pacing, knitting…. And I’m pretty sure prayers were splashing all around the room. As I drew my abstract, biologically-incorrect version of a colon, I knew I was not really alone. A whole community of God’s people was there experiencing the same kind of anxiety and worry and maybe the intermittent peace and calm of God that I was. As I drew, blessing prayers for Andy popped into my head. The prayers weave in and around the large intestines in the drawing.
Throughout the morning dozens of text messages and Facebook posts arrived with prayers, virtual hugs, and encouragement. When the doctor called me and said the operation had gone smoothly, he said, “I did my job and now it’s up to God.” (I thought, an obedient patient would help, too!) I was grateful to share the good news with friends via all sorts of media. If the news had not been so good, I think I would still have been grateful for such a wide community of love and support.
Andy is recovering well. He has been home since Sunday. Yesterday he trimmed bushes with a small, handheld clipper and cooked a pasta dinner. Today is his birthday. So one week post surgery I am turning his hospital prayer into a birthday and gratitude prayer. I am grateful for his life and for our extended family of Christ—intentional and unintentional, near and far—who walks with us on this complicated journey of being human.