Friday, December 6, 2013

When Faith Plays a Hand

The following essay appears in the December issue of Chicago Parent Magazine:

When a mysterious grassy patch of my front lawn died this past summer, it left behind the non-mistakable figure of an angel with wings and a halo (click HERE for post).  My six-year-old son contended it was Blue from “Blues Clues.”  Regardless of the interpretation, neighbors and family had a good chuckle and speculated that God was telling me to attend mass a bit more regularly. 

I argued that God just wanted me to use less fertilizer.

In an age where fewer Americans believe in any kind of greater power, helping children grow up with a sense of faith has become increasingly difficult.  As someone who finds enormous strength and comfort through faith, I have always wanted the same for my kids.  I do not care what religion they ultimately practice as adults, I just want them to enjoy a sense of peace and love in their lives.  I instruct them that signs and miracles are indeed among us, but are often difficult to spot without faith.

A little while back, my brother-in-law was on his way home when he started feeling nauseous.  Convinced it was the flu, he pulled over to rid himself of the contents of his stomach.  As he was preparing to get back in the car and drive directly to his house, an old Polish woman exited a nearby CTA bus and walked towards him.  She gently patted his shoulder, and in stilted English offered the briefest of advice:

“I think you sick.  I think it your heart.”

My brother-in-law John, who only moments before had planned to crawl into his own bed for a good long rest, altered his destination immediately.  He pulled up in front of Christ Hospital, threw his keys at the security guard, and hurried to the front desk.  And at that exact moment, one of the leading cardiologists in the entire state of Illinois just happened to be standing right there.

John was on an operating table in less than ten minutes.  Had he waited even five minutes more, this story could have ended quite differently.

Since that day, the family has discussed the timing of the little Polish lady from the bus.  Most women walking by themselves would not approach a man retching in the street.  I probably would have written off the guy as a drunk.  Maybe another mom wouldn’t have wanted to risk contamination of a perceived virus.

But not that old Polish lady.

Whether she was an angel in disguise, or more likely, someone who lived her life with great kindness and caring, I do not consider her appearance a coincidence. 

John and his new wife celebrated their first wedding anniversary last month, and I can’t help but think someone out there gave them the best gift ever.

Miracles, it seems, still do happen.


  1. Marianne, I love this. I love that story, amd I love that I can read your blog and always count on finding something funny, human, self-deprecating in the funniest way possible,, and faithful. Merry Christmas!

  2. You know how I feel about this.

  3. I truly believe there are no coincidences in life but God working in situations like this with your brother-in-law. I cannot tell you how many times I've had situations that I know truly were God ordained.

    So glad your brother-in-law did decide to listen to that lady and not just shine it off and go home. Definitely something to be thankful for!

    (and did I tell you I'm 100% Polish?)


  4. Very heart-warming post, Marianne. So glad you have your brother-in-law and can see with eyes of faith.

    Yesterday my miracle was that my husband (who has dementia) and our dog in his arms greeter me at the door. Warmed my heart! Hubby hasn't been able to do greet me at the door since July. Miracles are answers to my prayers, screaming out to God "what do I do?" and He answers my prayers with such surprises as a chiropractor when the doctor didn't help, or a volunteer caregiver so I can keep working, or with, miracle of all miracles, strength for me for a difficult day. My dealing with me, my imperfections, is the biggest miracle.

  5. Good Grief Marianne, I rushed to get a handkerchief, the pagan that I am.

  6. Thanks for the heart warming story Marianne. We are so grateful that John listened to that little Polish women. I have no doubt that it was no coincidence that she appeared to him. God works quietly among us. We just need to listen... =) Eileen (John's sister)

  7. Stories like this are an incredible reminder of the comfort and miracle part of faith, when we start to feel bogged down by some of the guilt and fear of mere religion.

  8. Wow...and Wow. What a great story! I think we all need to listen less to our own yapping and more to what God has to tell us. Thanks for sharing!


  9. That's such an amazing story! I've seen too many miracles not to believe. God was definitely watching out for your brother-in-law!!!

  10. Wow! What an amazing story. Certainly not a coincidence. Definitely a miracle! And I do believe she was an angel in disguise!