The Novena

My friends/church are saying a novena for my healing, starting tonight.  Being a new Catholic, I’m only starting to learn about formal prayers like this, but I welcome it.  Colleen will lead us through what to say and what it means over here (or you can download the printable version).  All are welcome. 

It is true, I have prayed for healing before, and so many prayers have been said on my behalf.  I know it gives me strength and hope.  I have faith that if it is God’s will, I will be healed.

When we arrived home from the grocery store this afternoon (stocking up on milk and bread before this evening’s storm), there was a hang-tag on the door that said that flowers had been left at the neighbor’s for me.  Surprised, I checked on a family down the street, as they shoveled their driveway with children in tow, and then walked across to her house.  She met me on the snow-covered lawn, holding these daisies in her hands and saying, “They’re beautiful.”

Well, of course they were, and of course we lingered to chat.  We’re two who could easily be good friends, if not for all the things that separate us, not least the six children, mine all boys and hers all girls, that span the ages from newborn to nine.  And yet we hardly ever see each other, and our houses keep each other company while we remain almost-strangers.

Today we lingered, and when she asked, “How are you?” it just all spilled out, how we had gone to get a scan to see the good news that the cancer was gone, but it was back instead, and how I was in a clinical trial and hopeful and positive but still I’d really rather not be here again.  I stopped and looked at her, embarrassed that I had let all that out, for I don’t really talk about it out loud, and she looked at me and said, “My mother has cancer.”  Her mother was just diagnosed with stage 1, a thousand miles away, and she’s suffering through radiation, harder at her age, I’m sure, and pretty discouraged about it to boot.  We stayed and talked, and I don’t think I said anything too special as I answered her questions about radiation, about fatigue, about how to help her mother as she goes through treatment, but at the end, I hugged her, and she clasped my arm and said, “I think the flowers were meant to be.”

As I walked back home, I marveled at how the flowers had indeed already brought me a moment of cheer and friendship, and I hadn’t yet looked at the card.  But when I looked at the card, I was blown away:

Dear Susan, We see the miracle in the beautiful daisies, so how can we not believe that there is a miracle left for you.  We will keep praying as you keep fighting. Love —

And there it is.  Do I believe in miracles?  You bet.  Always have.  Is that incompatible with being a woman of science?  I don’t think so.  And neither did many great men and women through the ages.  I don’t know how it all works together, I’ll admit, but I know enough to know that just because I don’t understand doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. 

At school pickup today, a new friend pressed something into my hands, a relic, she said, and told me to take it, along with her prayers, she said.  “I am praying for you,” she said, and she knows that God hears our prayers.

After three days break from the treatment, ordered by my doctor because I lost sensation in my fingertips and thumbs on Thursday, I’ve started taking the medicines again.  That’s progress.  That’s something.  And the arms I’ve clasped today, the friends I’ve shared a smile and a No Princess Alone buttonhope with, the faith that has been spoken to me today by Catholic and Orthodox Jew, and the very fact that I’m here having a quiet moment with you — well, today has been a very good day.

And as for the princess?  Well, she keeps popping up on blogs, and she and I spent the early part of the afternoon with Little Bear, building a replica of our house.


40 Responses to The Novena

  1. Terry Arnold says:

    I hope the prayer offers you much comfort and if you are willing to share the prayer, I will join you on your behalf from home. Many of my friends said novena for my illness and I am grateful. God’s healing is one of mystery, as we think of physically healing here on Earth, (and we do want you here with your children,) but sometimes the healing comes in spiritually form, but still a healing. Praying with you, Terry

  2. Andrea says:

    Susan, we will be praying for you from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

  3. Sunday says:

    I will gladly join in the prayers for you this evening. You are never far from my thoughts when I am speaking with God.

    God bless you, Susan.

  4. Colleen says:

    Terry — if you go to my blog ( the novena prayers are there — click on the link embedded in the word “here”.

    Thank you so much!

  5. clifford says:


  6. I’m storming heaven with you, and expecting a wild rainstorm of healing waters, filling every dry place, cleansing, renewing. Prayer warriorss, onward!

  7. Margaret says:

    I’m in!

  8. NYFriend says:

    Beautiful. I am so happy for you that you have such a loving and devoted community supporting you.

    I have such wonderful hope in the immersion of powerful, positive, loving energy that you will be surrounded by with this Novena.

    My thoughts are with you and your family, and may you all find even more strength and hope as you are spiritually lifted by your loving community.

  9. beth says:

    I’ll be praying with you from Boulder, Colorado. Love —

  10. Jenster says:

    This post makes me smile all the way down to my heart. You are an encouragement and touch so many people, probably moreso when you least expect it like with your neighbor.

    I pray for you and Laurie and Sarah and Judy and my friend, Cindy and a new friend Gina and every other woman I know battling cancer right now every morning. Sometimes I feel so helpless, but I always know I can beseech God on others’ behalves.

  11. jodifur says:

    Thanks for reminding me that even on the darkest of days there is hope and faith and love. So, so much love.

  12. Kami says:

    Just for the record I’ve said since the day you got the news that you would be a miracle, guess what? I still 100% believe that. I do.

  13. I will continue to say prayers for healing and strength for you. *hugs*

  14. Bon says:

    i don’t know if it makes any sense to say that while i don’t believe *for me*, i am glad to believe for you. and in you. with all my heart.

  15. liz says:

    i’m not so much a pray-er, but i am a woman of great faith. i send you a million good and peaceful blessings.

  16. C. Mom says:

    Praying, hoping, crossing fingers….and loving you for your strength, your love of others, and your unstoppable spirit. Xo

  17. The wonders never cease! So many miracles! Watching and waiting for the one I’m specifically praying for — cancer-be-gone.

  18. Richard Foster says:

    Praying with you. Hope you can use the rosery.
    Love from warm Ms.

  19. jr says:

    I’ve been keeping you in my prayers up here in Canada since I read about the recurrence. I’m Episcopalian, and trying to say the Daily Office, well, daily — and every time I get to this part of it I think of you (for obvious astronomical reasons!):

    “Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the surface of the earth: the Lord is his name.” Amos 5.8

    Blessings and peace, Susan.

  20. Siobhan says:

    Peace be with you, Susan.

  21. I’m sending you love, and wishing for you: peace, strength, and healing.

  22. Valerie says:

    thank you for this post – I love it. Continued prayers for you…

  23. Have you heard/seen Brene Brown speak about vulnerability? Her talk at Blissdom has been on my mind all week and your story of opening up to your neighbor (even though you were a little embarrassed about it) is such a great example. Who knows what great friends you might really be able to become if there’s not that awkward wall standing there, you know?

    You always inspire me, Susan!

  24. ZAM says:

    My prayers are with you Susan! You are strong and so inspiring. I’m grateful there are women like you in the world. Virtual hugs from a virtual mommy friend.

  25. I’m Praying 🙂


  26. Niksmom says:

    Keeping you in my prayers, Susan. I believe my son”s very existence is proof of miracles. May there be one on store for you, as well.

  27. Sarah Browne says:

    Dear Susan –I wish I was your neighbor. I would bring you daisies every day just to see the smile that beams out at me from the top of this page. I don’t know when that picture was taken but your irrepressible spirit is a joy to behold. Novena on the way!

  28. annie says:

    Also sending you love and peace and prayers of good healing!

  29. MDTaz says:

    Not only do I believe in miracles, I have witnessed one myself so I know they can happen. I’m sending all good hopes, prayers, intentions, wishes, novenas, chants, tefillahs, blessings, songs and silly-backward-dances in the street that you get yours.

  30. Praying, Susan. Praying HARD. For you, your family, and miracles.

    And jr (up there in comments)? What a PERFECT verse… I’ll be including it in my morning meditations.

    My grandfather, a British university physics professor, always said that science should never be used to prove the existence of God… But that in fact, it worked the other way around! Both he and my father (a doctor) have seen inexplicable things happen– things that they could only describe as “miracles”.

    I absolutely believe that there are many more miracles in store for you, my friend.

    xoxoxo CGF

  31. Melanie says:

    Praying daily for you…and have been. It’s all that I can do, but I feel a bit mighty. You’re quite a woman and I feel honored to pray for you specifically!

  32. ella says:

    I’m still praying x

  33. Pamela says:

    Wanted to share with you, unfortunately, another person who has IBC. She works at a foundation that deals with the medical professions, and writes an interesting post.

    Can Good Care Produce Bad Health?

  34. midnightmama says:

    Hi Susan,

    Ive been following your blog for a while now, since you posted the butterfly nebula (I had a diff blog/username then). I put in my guess as the “intergalactic butterfly”. Every time I look up at the stars, fiddle with my NASA Jet Propulsion iPhone App or watch Super Why with my littles, I think of you.

    My thoughts, prayers and intentions are with you and your family. I ask God to grant you a healing, a miracle, and a successfull clincial trial.

    Peace xoxo

  35. Beckye Estillb says:

    Beautiful post, Susan, and I among those praying for you! Being a breast cancer survivor, I am praying with understanding!

  36. Margaret Johnson says:

    You will be on our prayer list at our Bible Study meeting today and in our daily prayers as well. God speed a full recovery to you.

  37. Lahdeedah says:

    This really touched me. Praying for you, Susan, with all the faith and hope and love I have.

  38. I love that you embrace both science and faith, I do as well and have never seen them in opposition. I pray that God, through your faith, and science through this trial, will bring you health and a long and happy life.

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