I took notes over the years, and here's one about when God spoke to a friend . . .
. . . who told me about it one day on the Green Line 13 years ago
My note, 5/18/2010:
Was talking to a fellow the other day who was celebrating his "epiphany" of twenty-some years ago, he being 70-ish now. Something of a mid-life crisis that turned out well.
His arm went out, the doc couldn't get it back in, Doc and three others spread-eagled him at Oak Park Hospital. It's where modern medicine meets grunt 'n groan. Very painful. The fellow prayed, and arm returned to socket.
In his prayer, he had seen himself on the cross with Jesus, seen himself as Jesus, asked Jesus to take on his pain. Zip, in went arm to socket.
Nurse on scene: Don't know what you did, but it worked.
Two pain-filled weeks later, reading in the gospel where Jesus wept over Lazarus, he had his revelation -- epiphany. Saw that he too should weep, at least figuratively, over other people's pain. Not crocodile tears either, as political feelers of others’ pain.
No, he remembered one whom he had not helped when he should have, was struck with that recollection and conviction, not a vision but something better, that he should not let that happen again.
His life has not been the same, he said on the Green Line on the way to the Loop. The conviction has remained, regularly renewed. It has not gone away. He remembers more and more people he knows for whom he could have done and could do something helpful.
Years ago, Andrew Greeley, for 18 months now in his own time of spread-eagling since he was dragged by a taxi and banged his head on a curb, wrote once about how many have such prayer experiences as my friend had.
Greeley the social scientist and gatherer of information -- a noble calling in a world of, ah, disinformation -- had found that lots of people, including the kind we bump into on the street, have reported their own such momentarily heightened awareness of the divine.
My friend is a very thoughtful individual who reads, writes, and discusses issues of life governance. He has put in a lot of time at this sort of behavior. On his figurative cross at the hospital, he was ripe for the picking by the Divine Gatherer.
The hound of heaven, the poet Francis Thompson called God, but not before having a very rough go of it as an addict.
Better yet is the case of Ignatius Loyola, for whom a cannonball to the leg was a deciding factor. Recuperating, he ran out of tales of soldierly derring-do and read saints' lives. Impulsive chap, he managed to find a cave where he could live and investigate himself and his future as a Christian. From that came the Spiritual Exercises and later the Jesuits.
My friend of the Green Line conversation has no such plans, for what it's worth.
When he died a few years after this, he was the subject of heartfelt remembrance by others he had helped.
Yet to come, more notes I took.
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