Penny and I got into the car to go to the hospital yesterday at noon. Peter buckled her into her seat, kissed her on the forehead, and said, "I'll see you tonight, beautiful girl."
"Pray, Dad," she replied.
The night before, she had a hard time falling asleep.
"Are you afraid, Mom?"
"No, sweetie, I'm not afraid. Are you?"
"No." Pause. And then, "I'm scared, Mom."
"Oh, sweetie. I'm sorry you're scared. Do you want to pray?"
We prayed for a long time and then she asked for her dad. When he left, she was falling asleep muttering, "Trust Jesus. Trust Jesus."
So her dad prayed with her before we drove away. A few hours later she had two quick surgeries, twenty five minutes total, and emerged with tubes in her ears and stints in her tear ducts so they'll stay open, we hope, from now on. She has a black eye on one side, and when I first got to her, blood drained out of her nose. She cried as I held her and rocked her and sang to her. But within an hour, she was happily eating pretzels (the snack she had been denied at school that morning) and telling me about her other ailments. "My leg is broken, Mom. Need an xray!" Over the course of the car ride home, we "fixed" two broken legs, a hurt tummy, a neck wound, and an undisclosed issue involving her armpit.
She's back at school today, happy as can be.
Looking back, I hope that we taught her something about prayer. I hope we didn't teach her that it's a magic trick, and I hope we didn't teach her that she isn't supposed to have emotions like fear or sadness or hurt. I hope she knew something of God's comfort and presence and strength in the midst of her fear.
She taught me too. It was a simple teaching, one reminiscent of Jesus. Penny reminded me to pray when I'm afraid. Pray with other people, people I trust, people who love me. She reminded me that God receives the simplest requests, the prayers of a child.