Thursday, August 28, 2008

ever wonder . . .

It began, as they did back then, with handwritten letters to a stranger, someone who just wanted a friend from another country, sharing their lives. My wife's sister has had a friendship with a woman from England for probably over 40 years now. They began as pen pals while in grade school, lost touch for a little while, and then started communicating once more. They finally got to meet some years ago, with Heather going to England for a visit, and Sue and her family visiting here on several occasions. Wonder of wonders, after 40 years, they have a good and solid friendship.

In today's world, of course, it is all done via the internet, email, instant messages, texting. We can communicate with folks we have never met, complete strangers who can become good friends, simply through the process of sitting down at a keyboard, and sharing one's life. Of course, there are risks we have to keep in the back of our minds, but by and large, we meet good, decent, and caring folks.

Madeleine and Megan first met by chatting on, a website for expectant mothers. Ironically, coincidentally, their respective daughters, Lileth (Madeleine's) and Rowan (Megan's) were born on the same day. And so, as folks do in today's culture, they maintained their friendship through emails and posting pictures to one another.

While looking at a picture of 1-year-old Rowan on the website, Madeleine noticed a white shadow in the baby's left eye. Now, she didn't have a bit of medical training, but finding the shadow curious, she began to research the web. And she discovered that the shadow could be a symptom of an eye cancer known as retinoblastoma. Reluctantly, hesitantly, she sent an email to Megan, expressing her concerns, trusting that if there was nothing wrong, then no harm was done. As it turned out, Megan made an immediate appointment with her doctor, who referred her to a specialist who, indeed, discovered a cancerous tumor growing on Rowan's retina.

Rowan will lose her eye sometime in the next few months, and will have to go through several rounds of chemotherapy. But, by Madeleine's simple wondering, her concern for a friend's child (even though they had never met), her willingness to seek more information, the cancer was discovered early, and Rowan's prognosis is good.

Now, some will say that it is all a coincidence, a quirk of fate, a lucky chance that the white shadow only appeared in a flash photo that was later posted on an internet site.

But the Book tells us that God works in mysterious ways, wonders to perform. And since God seems not to trust to luck, or believe in fate, or rely on coincidences, God chooses to work these wonders, to perform these things we call miracles, through us.

Through experts and doctors, yes. But more often than not, especially through people like Madeleine, who simply cared enough to wonder.

(c) 2008 Thom M. Shuman

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