God connects with us in all kinds of places. When it happens, that connection can feel as joyful as a burst of sunflowers.
Elaine was born and raised in Minneapolis. Her parents’ best friends’ sons were about the same age as Elaine,8, and sister Shirley, 13. Harvey, the older son, was what Elaine called “a mean kid.” The two families often took fishing vacations together. “I HATED those vacations,” Elaine says.
On a trip to northern Minnesota, the kids decided to play catch. They formed a diamond pattern and threw a soccer-sized ball to the person on the left. To Elaine’s dismay, Harvey stood to her right. “This bully taunted me, yelling ‘butterfingers’ and other insults as he threw.” By the time the ball was airborne, Elaine knew she would drop it. “I was so scared of this boy that I didn’t even try to catch that ball.”
As the ball kept landing on the sand and tears formed in Elaine’s eyes, something changed. “I can still remember the feeling. It was stronger than I had ever experienced. I knew that some force had taken control. It pushed that ball into my hands. That’s when I began to believe that someone or something was watching over me.”
Fast forward several decades. Elaine was in treatment for ovarian cancer. Once diagnosed, she sought out whatever took her mind off what was happening to her body. As a musician, she found escape in playing the piano, singing and listening to music. She began meditating more often. Meditation took her into what she calls “an almost out of body state that allowed me to forget about cancer and the fear it brings.”
One afternoon she lay on the den floor of the Michigan home she shares with Shelly, her then husband of 45 years. She felt the same surge of energy she’d felt as a girl on a beach. A force moved from the top of her head, through her body, down to her toes. She jumped up and ran over to Shelly in the family room. She exclaimed, “I just got a message from God! I’m going to live!” Again the feeling was so powerful that she knew “something or someone else was walking beside me, protecting me.”
In Permission to Believe: Finding Faith in Troubled Times, Rabbi Samuel Karff writes that meditation is a form of prayer. “…by our prayers we become partners in our healing process, along with the physician and God, the ultimate healer.”
Since finishing treatment, Elaine works tirelessly to increase awareness of this devastating disease. Ovarian cancer is tough to detect. Survival rates are discouraging.
For years Shelly marveled at his wife’s faith. When Elaine shared her experience on the floor of their den, she says, “Shelly began to wonder if there was something to this God thing. I think the fact that I am a 13-year survivor has helped to convince him.”