Tuesday, November 02, 2010

On Saints and Lost Shoes

In honor of All Saints' Day, I have to offer a word of thanks to a saint all mothers seem to keep busy - Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost items. This morning was a tad chilly. Getting
Ainsley to keep socks on her feet requires me to put shoes on her (otherwise she yanks the socks and tosses them). You wouldn't think this would be so tough, but she was quite the fashionista this morning in the get-up posted right.

Yes, I could find just one brown and one polka-dotted shoe until I asked Saint Anthony to intercede and immediately found the second brown one. Saint Anthony never fails to deliver when lost pacifiers threaten to make bedtime run amok or when homework vanishes.

I have often wondered about the theology and reality of this phenomenon. Here's my take. God wants to answer all of our prayers as quickly and decisively as we find that lost shoe. Of course most of our prayers involve dilemmas far more serious and complicated than a missing pacifier or sneaker. Moreover these prayer requests typically involve other people and that pesky and inviolable point of human nature known as free will. While God wants to answer our prayers, He won't violate free will to do so. Lost items typically involve no free will, and God can flex a little muscle and give us a gratuitous gift. Here! Enjoy! Problem solved!

A member of my women's prayer group recently shared what she called a "selfish prayer." She had been training for a half-marathon and simply wanted to run the race pain free. The longer I thought about her prayer, the more I thought that it wasn't selfish at all. No, leg pain is not world peace, and a half-marathon isn't cancer research. But God is a loving and generous Father. Sometimes a child needs medicine or comfort or food or something else we would deem essential. Sometimes he comes running to Dad for a cookie or a new matchbox car or a trip to the ice cream store.

Today I am grateful for my heavenly Father and for the host of saints who intercede for our needs and wants, both significant and small.

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