You’ll find in these Rants and Yarns that I believe in science only up to a point.
I believe in evolution rather than creation…and I am sincerely convinced “religion” has over time been created due 1) to our mortal fear of death and 2) our imagination, that allows us to believe we can have eternal life in paradise if we do this, that or the other.
Man is the only creature on this good earth who anticipates death, and has an imagination... and not consequentially the only creature with "religion."
So even though I’m skeptical about the “God” and “religion” that these two things produce… I absolutely believe in the enormous power of prayer, and don’t ask me to reconcile that.
I know this for a fact; sometime things happen in life that cannot be explained. Often wondrous things. Prayer’s just the only possible explanation… Luck’s different. Chance. Serendipity. All different.
Prayer’s extra-sensory perception to the power of infinity. It exist in the same realm as personal aura and unspoken projection of feelings. The thing that guides migrating birds and whales. That causes changes in human behavior with different phases of the moon.
A friend was dying because he needed a new heart, although he had been on the transplant list for two years – and had had two false alarms before… both times he went under anesthesia expecting a new ticker when he woke up… only to find both times his worn out heart still in place.
Time was running out, and no donor hearts that fit my big, big friend was on the horizon. His tired old original – expanded to the size of a soccer ball – was losing all elasticity and was just barely able to squeeze blood through the body. And his heart rate was slower every day. His toes were becoming cold to the touch.
Several of us had been on a, well, ‘death watch’ for ten days or so. All this was no surprise to our friend… who was aware his time had grown short.
I had sudden family business out of town and even down to my friend’s last hours, I had to leave, but others were at his hospital bed side, so he would not be alone at the end.
I was talking with another friend – a devout Catholic – about the situation, and he said that I should go tend my business in peace, that he knew of a prayer assembly at a local convent and he would ask them to pray over the week-end.
Monday when I returned, my friend was in recovery from a heart transplant that had successfully taken place on Saturday night with the heart of a young organ donor – killed in a local accident.
I know your first reaction is to go back to the ol’ time religion you’ve known since you were a kid… that God certainly had more for my friend to do on this good earth before calling him home.
Well listen to this… another friend on the death watch was going through a particularly acrimonious divorce. When my buddy with his new heart got out of the hospital and went home, he called up our mutual friend’s ex-wife and after a time moved in with her. In doing this he left behind some CIA secretary who he had lived with the past year or so as he was going through the trama of his one and only heart giving out. This good looking gal had lived in the hospital intensive care in the chair beside my friend’s bed – and out on a couch in the family area – for, I don’t know, a month? Certainly during the last few weeks before the miracle heart transplant…
Anyway, my buddy with his new ticker moved out of their apartment, into the lush pad of the independently wealthy former wife of our mutual friend… a friend who was devastated, because now his ex-friend and ex-wife were able to team up on bringing suit against some hidden assets he had…
And the CIA secretary died… over something hard to pronounce, ‘though in the South, we’d say a broken heart. Don’t know what happened to the son she had by a previous marriage who had psychological problems…
Yes sir, I believe in prayer. But if there is a divine God, he sure got a perverse sense of drama.
Or maybe the thing here is to be careful what you pray for.
And then this:
When I was nineteen years old a couple of other friends – Lamar Cope and Bubba Kepley – and I drove a 1950 Willis Jeep from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Managua, Nicaragua.
In leaving, Mother finally cleared her tears – that I was doing this trip rather than go back to college – paused, smiled and said for only me to hear that she would pray for me every day.
On our trip down, right below Guatemala, we were directed to a crater lake high in the mountains overlooking San Salvador that had rich haciendas along the shore. We were looking for a place to camp for the night.
Coming over a rise near the mountain top about dusk we saw below us a deep blue lake, that mirrored the jungle along its edge. Large estates could be seen on the shoreline amid the foliage. We drove up to one of the first we came to and asked the man who answered our knock if we could stay the night on his grounds.
He said we could in halting English. He called out for a servant to escort us to the side, near a vineyard. We set up our camp, Bubba and I on cots, Lamar in his repaired hammock, our dog on a leash near the jeep. Using our camp stove for light, we began to cook one of the last cans of meat we had purchased in the states. The servant came out with a plate of bread and potable water. The moon was full and cast its image on the lake as we turned out the stove after supper and fell asleep.
In the morning we woke up to see young boys squatting on the fringe of our campsite looking at us. They smiled when we woke up and scampered away. Soon a couple of maids arrived carrying fruit.
We decided to take a swim before leaving. Having spent the summer on the shore of Myrtle Beach as life guards we still had our stamina, so the three of us swam out into the middle of the lake where we treaded water and looked around. We were in the middle of paradise, green and lush. The water was cool, the sun warm on our faces. Birds chirped. Off in the distance we could see a group of fishermen, throwing nets. We swam to a side of the lake some distance from the hacienda where we had camped and climbed a tree that had big branches that extended out over the water.
The center of the volcano lake we had been told was so deep that its exact depth had never been measured. So as we climbed out on a limb, we had no fear of hitting bottom when we jumped. I was first up the tree and out on a branch. I looked down and figured I was as far from the water as if I had been standing on top of a three-story building. As I prepared to release my grip on the limb, off in the distant one of the fisherman began banging his oar against the side of his boat. He was yelling at us and banging his boat. He was probably trying to tell us that jumping would hurt his fishing, Lamar suggested. We held our position out on the big limb, expecting a little English and a little Spanish argument about what we could or could not do as the fisherman rowed in our direction. When he arrived under the limb he looked up and smiled as he extended his oar out and jabbed it down into the water. We heard it hit something solid a few feet below the surface, almost exactly where I was going to jump.
We climbed back down the tree and waded out into the lake near the fisherman’s boat. We climbed onto the rock beneath the tree. We stood there, water only up to our knees, and turned meekly to the fisherman. I said, “thank you,” and bowed my head. If I had jumped I would have broken every bone of my body on the submerged rock.
As we swam back to the hacienda, I thought that it all had come together so innocently… just getting on down the road, having Tom Sawyerish fun, yet death and great pain lurked right below the surface of this lake… just so innocent. What if the fishermen hadn’t been there? What really saved my sorry ass? Swimming along there in paradise, I felt my mother’s presence; could almost see her smile and nod her head.
Bless you, Mom, I thought, and the power of your guardian prayers… that saved a wretch like me.