When I am called to pray with the sick, with those on the threshold of death, it is so easy to miss the signs of goodness right before my eyes. I can get lost in the words of ritual or the words of prayer, failing to become aware of the Spirit, breathing actions of love in the form of a family standing around the bed of a loved one, praying, watching, being attentive, caressing.
The words of the ancient ritual and these beautiful human expressions of love TESTIFY to the presence of our God who comes to us wrapped in human suffering. Jesus speaks so eloquently about how people like John the Baptist “testify” to his identity. Jesus reminds the hard heartened and stiff- necked people to SEE the many actions that “testify” to his mission and purpose.
We can be so blind to the countless ways God enters our lives when we become preoccupied with ourselves, when we become distracted, even while praying a ritual of healing, when we refuse to experience God in new ways, and when we surrender to negativity and pessimism.
As I watched a family I know so well care for one they deeply love, my eyes were opened to the beauty before their gaze. I let go of the words, I let go of the form of the ritual and allowed their love to “testify” to God’s Presence right there, in a place of suffering. And the prayer took on a new and unexpected expression.