by Cristian Jaramillo
I was required by my family to attend church every Sunday morning to endure a painful hour of meaningless-to-me bible readings, tedious organ music, and the peculiar breaking and sharing of flavorless wafers. Nothing about that hour made sense to me. I was an adolescent who did not comprehend the true significance of this gathering.
As the scriptures were read, I would lay down between the pews, thumb wrestle with my equally disinterested brother or play with the occasional paperclip found on the church rug. The years went by and I continued to follow this schedule.
As a child my faith was presented to me, however it wasn’t truly mine. In retrospect, it would take a miracle for me to acquire full ownership of my faith.
That ownership arrived in my life during a time of dire calamity. My grandmother, my joyful, strong, Abuela, was gravely ill and not expected to survive.
Although a paraplegic from childhood, neither physical limitation nor advancing age had let anything block Abuela from enjoying life. Her passions included arm wrestling, gambling on Venezuelan Ludo, and being the heart of the dance floor, cheerfully “dancing” in her wheelchair to salsa music for hours. Despite her many misfortunes in life, Abuela always reflected a positive attitude with laughter, smiles, and jokes.
The doctors informed us that Abuela’s brain was irreversibly deteriorating, with nothing to be done, except hope for a miracle. Just hope.
I was distraught seeing my once energetic Abuela in this fragile state. At that very moment, everything was coming quickly to an end. My skin, pale and cold to the touch, my body, jittery and anxious, my mind, clouded with fear, were my immediate reactions to her illness.
At that moment of helplessness I turned to God, held Abuela’s hand, and prayed. As I finished praying, Abuela slowly opened her eyes, looked at my mother and whispered, “You’re my guardian angel.”
Soon Abuela showed signs of recovery. Today Abuela has regained her sweet, happy-go-lucky personality and has made a full recovery. Her recovery is my miracle and it has permanently reshaped my beliefs. Those previously-to-me irrelevant gospel readings are now significant. I see beauty in the world where others see none, and my life is a curious journey rather than a mandatory path.
Most notably, I am now a spiritual mentor for young children, many of whom, as I once felt, reluctantly go to church on early Sunday mornings to listen to the same readings I found less important than thumb wrestling with my brother or less intriguing than playing with a shiny paper clip. I share my story with them in hope that each will find their own miracle and own their faith as I now do. I know it happened for me and I believe and pray it will happen for each of them.
Meanwhile, I cherish my time with Abuela and delight in the miracle of her recovery.
by Cristian Jaramillo