Monday, May 22, 2017

Miracles, under and above the ground

By Tom Walker

I’ve never had very much to say about miracles, really.
I believe in them, I suppose – the old-fashioned miracles that Jesus, Peter and Paul performed in the New Testament. In the movies they usually take place with special lighting and uplifting music to heighten the mood. Jesus healing the bleeding woman or casting the demons out of the man called Legion. Man, who wouldn’t believe in those kinds of miracles?
And I would probably put some modern events in the realm of the miraculous. One example springs to mind:  the Chicago Cubs winning the 2016 World Series championship to end a 108-year drought.
Speaking of droughts, I know something about those, too. I grew up on a ranch with my sister Mary, whom you know as the owner and writer of this blog. On the JV Bar ranch, droughts were a constant visitor, like the crackpot prospectors or inventors who came around to try to interest our father in their latest mining scheme or brainstorm.
Meanwhile, Mary and I, crackpots in our own right, employed the latest forms of magical thinking to coax the stubborn rains into ending the summer drought that had our desert ranch in its grip. “Please don’t rain,” we would chant at the distant thunderheads billowing north of the ranch above Weaver Mountain. “Please, please, please, don’t rain.”
Reverse psychology, we had decided, was just the meteorological magic needed.
And meanwhile, in my silent prayers, I was saying just the opposite: “Please, dear God, let it rain. Let Blue Tank Wash run bank to bank, and let the our range turn green again. Please, dear God, let it rain.”

Sand dams capture underground streams
Eventually, of course, it did rain, and our normally dry Blue Tank Wash did run wide and foamy and roaring over the concrete and stone dam that some early pioneer had built to supply water for our home, which was called the Grace Place.
We never knew why our home was called the Grace Place. Or who built our nearby dam, but that structure was why our wash was called the Blue Tank. No water rippled in it, just sand; but the ingenious filtration system built into it tapped into the underground lake behind the dam .
And if you think about it, that’s kind of a miracle in itself, that someone long ago figured out how to do that. I don’t believe we ever thought of it as a miracle – at least I never did. I just enjoyed watching the water roar over the dam after a good rain.
I have been the beneficiary of some miracles of modern medicine: quadruple bypass surgery five years ago and intensive therapy last year against an attack of MRSA pneumonia. Without the skill of the doctors and nurses who brought me through those, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
But last week, I experienced a real miracle. Not a magical-thinking kind of miracle, not a medical one. The real deal.
For the last three years, I’ve been dealing with prostate trouble. At first, it was just a slightly elevated reading of the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level in my blood test. But then, it started getting more serious.
 A couple years ago, my urologist performed a biopsy that found what he described as a “tiny sliver” of cancer in one of the test areas. Then, in the next PSA check, the reading hit 16 – a danger zone, where the cancer might start spreading.
Then we'd have to think about a more aggressive measure: a long, intense and expensive radiation treatment. Definitely, something I'd rather avoid.
We let another six months go by before the next test. I didn’t do much of anything different, except that I started praying. Like I used to pray for rain: “Please, dear God, let my PSA go down.”
And at my next appointment, my urologist slouched over his I-Pad the way he always does, and gave me this news: “Your PSA is down – it’s gone from 16 last time to 12.8 this time.”
He questioned what I’ve been doing since the last time he saw me. Well, I’ve been working out, and I’ve lost twenty pounds. And my urologist said he’s probably gained at least 20 pounds. And I tried out my theory of Universal Weight Balance on him. If someone loses 20 pounds, I explained, then God has to have someone else gain those 20 pounds to keep the earth from spinning out of its orbit into the sun. The doctor didn’t seem too impressed with my idea. ”Sounds like magical thinking to me,” he said.
Well, all I can say is “Pshaw.” I’m going to keep on praying, whether it’s magical or not. And I know the underground lake behind the Blue Tank Dam is still holding precious, life-giving water.
Thank you Jesus, for that. And for the lower PSA reading.

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