Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Prayer on the playground

As the first glimpses of light peeped through my heavy eyelids this morning, an immediate awareness interrupted my bleary state. Day two of my personal 30 day commitment to pray for healing. Anticipation mixed with disorientation - who, what and where today?

Cycling on my way to work today I prayed constantly, keeping my eyes peeled for any visible signs of physical deterioration. I was scouring the pavements so hard, that slightly dangerous cycling ensued. Fortunately, I avoided collision - although had I not, perhaps I could have prayed for myself? Anyway, except for an old guy with a zimmer frame, I didn't see a soul outwardly in need of healing prayer. Maybe, I passed up an opportunity with him, but I'm not quite sure how I feel about praying for oldies. If you're old, you're nearing your end anyway and I figure that at some point a dose of bad health normally does proceed the ultimate fall. Is my theology there in need of a little tweak?

I arrived at the house where I work as a nanny without success. So after some laundry and dinner preparation (a tasty chorizo and chickpea stew) I figured that if I took the dog out for a walk, I might stumble across someone in the woods to pray for. I didn't. And this could only mean one thing: unless I am going to be required to stop off in the city centre late tonight on my way home from work, the likelihood is I will have to find someone on the playground at the British School when I go to collect the children. A squirm-worthy thought.

So the BSN (British School of the Netherlands) playground is full of yummy mummies and Louis Vuitton leather. I feel a bit awkward there at the best of times; in part because I am not clad to quite the same standard, but also because I am not the mother of the children I am collecting, which means I don't know the other mother's from their coffee mornings or other middle-aged socials, and finally because I am clearly too young to be the mother of these-aged children and therefore I am a visibly identifiable nanny, which makes me feel slightly second class.
I collected the youngest, all the time spying out some imperfection amongst his classmate's guardians, but there were none. Out onto the rainy playground we went. This is normally the time of day that my four year old has me pretending to be a teradactul and flying over imaginary volcanoes as we wait for the older two to come out of their classrooms. Today however, I was distracted, eagerly and yet hesistantly waiting for my moment. That's when I saw a lady limp right over the playground. Now I knew I couldn't go over to her straight away because I had to stay in view for my kids to come out. Just then my middle child came over to me and I could see out of the corner of my eye the had-been-limping lady talking animately to someone about her disfunctional leg. The conversation was coming to a close. For fear that she would hobble right out of the playground never to be seen again, I dashed over to her indicating that the children should follow me. As I reached her, my final child arrived too, a bit confused as to what I was doing. They get rather embarrassed of me at times, but I like to think they find me endearing.
"Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice that you were limping. Is your leg OK?"
"Did you hear me?" she replied.
"Oh no," I assured her that I hadn't been listening in on her conversation. "I just saw you limping and you see the thing is, I'm a Christian and I believe God can heal. Would you like me to pray for you?"
Immediately her tone softened and she took my hand tenderly - she was a middle-aged Spannish lady, which made this gesture quite natural - not that I'm one to easily feel uncomfortable. I asked her name, which I think was the Spannish equivalent of Marilyn and told her mine. She told me that she was recovering from an operation on her leg and was really struggling, having just returned to work (also as nanny). She said that she suffered from pain, particularly at night. After she asked whether I went to church and then what kind of church and told me she was Catholic, she agreed to let me pray for her. I did so there and then in the playground, quite promptly, as I had my three children observing awkwardly from the sidelines and she had to scoot off to collect her own. But she was so touched and insisted that I catch up with her on the playground with her tomorrow. I will do that and I hope to share with you tomorrow that her leg is doing much better!

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