The first time I encountered a prayer circle, Lily was in the PICU and had just had another failed shunt surgery. It was the 3rd brain surgery for Lily--and this time she had a fever in the OR. They cancelled surgery and instead took a culture of her cerebral spinal fluid, telling us that now we'd wait for something to grow and Lily would start Vancomycin, an antibiotic of last resort. Lily would remain connected to her external shunt, which was like a snorkel.
Anyway, the whole event led to me having a total, loud, implosion in the hallway of CHOP. I remember feeling bad at the time because some parents were just there for the day and their kids were getting tubes in their ears or having their tonsils out and I really thought they did not need to ever know the darkness that was lurking all around them.
Later that same day was when I experienced my now-fabled encounter with God--I asked the nurse to get me drugs, instead she called the hospital Chaplain and then somehow, compelled by God and coincidence, my own Pastor Bill Getman showed up. The Chaplain and Pastor Bill knew each other--a fact I remember finding irritating (I was not in a mood for a pastoral church picnic reunion while my daughter's brain fluid was hopefully not growing anything.) and then we had to pray, because there were two pastors and I could tell our nurse was really very proud of herself for somehow orchestrating two pastors and since Mike was there too, we totaled four and ended up in a circle configuration.
A freaking prayer circle.
Anyway, we prayed. I had a bad attitude in prayer. I asked desperately for God to deliver me from this situation, so I could hurry up and find the drugs that would numb me to horrors I was living and then I opened my eyes and I realized the Pastors were dressed in identical Pastor outfits, from Kohls or JcPenney. Same brown shoes, same khaki pants, same belt and a red polo.
I still laugh when I think of it. I mean, what in the world? These were two grown men dressed in the same outfit on a weekday afternoon in the pediatric intensive care unit--a serious place and they were having a theme day.
And friends, that was an answer to my prayer because I needed to laugh. Give me an absurd, funny moment and I can rally through anything.
I've told this story so many times--in so many places--that ridiculous prayer circle--and there have been other ridiculous prayer circles--overly emotional family blessings in which my children have farted so loudly, I am sure people in the South Hemisphere could hear the echo; ridiculous circles, in which, I've refused to be in circle and caused complete confusion amongst hospital clergy and the circle that happened today, despite my very strict orders for no PRAYER CIRCLES.
I received so many messages--some with obscenely funny memes and others that were oddly pickle-themed and my favorite, the threat of a drive by hug, which was followed up by a note that my friend saw me in my yard and kept driving (total stalker. I love it!!) and then a strange text that ended with the sign off of "bye" as if it was a voicemail and sage advice and really funny, unhealthy advice and no one ignoring me, but everyone honoring me.
It was the very opposite of what I asked for, just like that day I asked for those drugs and ended up with two twinning Pastors.
Friends, today, I felt so circled in love and prayer and humor and faith that I really started to think that maybe I actually love a prayer circle--I mean provided there are optimal conditions and no one takes the prayer too seriously and someone dresses like someone else and there is something not in the Bible to make me laugh.
I am so humbled by your love for me and our family.
So thank you. Thank you for encircling me, even if you thought you were not, you were, and I am only a little mad at you, but mostly I am laughing.