The other day, my youngest daughter–the daring climber and adventurer that she is–had a bad fall. She managed to cut her head on her way down, so in addition to the cries of pain there was a bit of blood as well.
This was too much for my son, who often feels more empathy than he lets on. Immediately he cried out in tears, “We have to pray!” He ran to the icon corner heaving and sobbing, while I took a few anxious moments making sure we didn’t need to make an unpleasant visit to the emergency room.
Days later, when we were sure all was well and began to tell the story as an example of our toddler’s daring, I had time to reflect. What struck me the most was my son’s first impulse–to turn to prayer and to God–was not the same as mine. Over the next few days, he began to show more protectiveness, becoming especially skittish if he saw her trying to climb again. He’d say things like, “Mommy, we can’t let that happen to her again,” and I agreed wholeheartedly.
These awful moments, then, can work to turn us to prayer and to God. This doesn’t change the fact of the suffering, or the grief we must bear, or the ordeal we must face, whatever it may be. But in the midst of it, we get a chance to use it to strengthen our relationship with God, to cherish what we have, to care for each other, and to bear one another’s burdens.