In the summer of 2015, in the wake of a long overdue decision to officially separate from my husband and file for divorce, I drove across the country with my Saint Bernard. The trip was uneventful until I got to Tennessee, where I stayed for the weekend with old friends I’ll call Jenna and Rob. It was here where I lost the dog.
I didn’t personally lose her. Phoebe broke out of a doggie daycare while I sat in an evangelical Christian church outside Nashville, where a rock band played power ballads about “the awesome, almighty father” and hundreds of…
I used to pray a strange prayer:
“Dear God, prune the roots.”
I saw my mind as a magical tree, but I feared it wasn’t mighty enough. What if it’s only a bonsai? I wanted God to go underground, down to the roots and trim them, snip off their tapered decisions to stop reaching, encourage them to dig deeper into the earth.
“But bonsais are so beautiful,” you say.
You’re not wrong. And I love you.
God’s pruning would make the root system vast. Imagine oceans of water sent up and up into the bonsai. It would have a choice…
I’ve always struggled with the idea of an interventionist God. The idea of treating an omnipotent power like a vending machine: If you put in faith, good works, and requests, you’ll get the world to go your way.
This assumes God operates within a meritocracy. It assumes that the better you are, the better you’ll be treated by the almighty. It assumes you can get everything you want if you just pray hard enough, if you’re holy enough, if you never stray. …
“Why didn’t the prayer work, Mom?”
This was the question my seven-year-old daughter posed to me last week. We were in Banff National Park in Canada, on vacation. Two hours earlier, we’d sat closely together, reciting a prayer to the Virgin Mary known as the Memorare, in the hopes of helping a hiker who had collapsed on the trail ahead of us. Shortly after we finished praying, the man died.
When it happened, we were on the last full day of a short and sweet family vacation in the Canadian Rockies. …
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