By Tim Hayes
Two giants fell in the same week, at the same age, by the same cause.
David Bowie – the chameleon-like musician who first broke into public consciousness as the fictional “Ziggy Stardust” – and Alan Rickman – the classically trained British thespian most familiar to audiences as Harry Potter’s professor “Severus Snape” – both passed on this week, both from cancer, both at age 69.
As would be expected, well-wishers both famous and ordinary flooded social media with their condolences and “prayers for his family” in both men’s cases. But that’s what has me wondering today – would it have been some comfort to Bowie, Rickman, and their respective families to have sought support and succor from a world’s worth of prayers as they reached their final moments, instead of only after they had died?
That’s the miracle of Facebook, Twitter, and the other instant-awareness-generating tools we share today. I’ve seen friends, and friends of friends who I don’t even know, ask for prayers for an ailing parent or child or for some other crucial need. And each time, I feel something inside. A reminder of the power of prayer.
In the interest of full transparency and honesty, I will admit that prayer has always been a bit of a challenge for me. They say the best prayer mirrors a conversation with a good friend, and I believe that, yet at the same time it can take a while for me to get properly comfortable with the idea. Once in that zone, though, the cerebral walls come down and the words flow more naturally. And it does lift whatever burden has been weighing me down.
As a lifelong Roman Catholic, I believe the apparitions of the Blessed Mother – at Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe and other locations (more occurred in the 20th Century than at any other time in history) – happened and are real. The most fascinating aspect of these apparitions, other than the startling fact of their occurrence at all, comes in what she said over and over: Pray. Pray continuously. Pray without ceasing.
When you think about that admonition, the purpose of prayer comes into greater, more comforting, focus. If we are to pray without ceasing, that means we shouldn’t only pray when things get tough. Most people do not live in an unending swamp of misery, pain, and wretchedness. When those brief sorts of episodes happen, though, suddenly we think to appeal for help from a higher power.
But I believe God is more than a temporary life-jacket or a handy escape-hatch or a supernatural ATM. I believe that God surrounds us in every moment, and wants to hear from us no matter what kind of day, week, month, or life we’re having. The formal word for it may be prayer, but maybe it helps to think of it as simply talking – via the original wireless connection. The comfort and healing that can result may seem to defy logical explanation, but nonetheless arrive.
That’s why I wish people who care for others – whether those “others” are heading for the end of their life, or facing some challenge, or just because they deserve some love from an incredible pool of human hearts – would tap the technology literally at our fingertips today…and tap into the power of prayer.
Copyright 2016 Transverse Park Productions LLC and Tim Hayes Consulting