My Mother, Lila Rife, turned 97 in Huntington WV on 27 February. After breakfast, she thanked God for the blessings in her long life–a strong Protestant faith, a husband, four children, no deaths of her children (her only brother drown at age 16), food, shelter, and good friends.
My Mother’s Mother, Mabel Dunfee, lived to be 101; and her lengthy life spoke of the same fiber as my Mother’s, that is PRAYER. Prayer was the tread at the beginning of the dinner table (sometimes very……. drawn-out prayers). It was likewise the weave that wove through family problems, and it has been the cloth in which Mom and her Mother, Mabel, constantly wrapped all four of us children.
Sometimes though the years, though, I have wondered if God really hears my prayer. The Bible speaks of that when it says in Philippians 4:6-7 (RSV), “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We know that He hears our prayers because of the peace they bring. But sometimes I need a “WINK FROM GOD” as Patty Raymond, a prayer warrior friend, calls it–a sign that my prayers are being heard. And in WV, I received just that.
Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, I wasn’t allowed to date anyone Catholic, didn’t have any Catholic friends, and had never entered a Catholic Church; even though, one was down the street from First Presbyterian Church in Huntington WV where we attended. Looking back, I longed for something deeper even then. I would often go into the small prayer chapel in our First Presbyterian Church and quietly kneel and pray. It was my favorite place of solitude. So after I became a Catholic, I often wondered what it would be like to go into Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Huntington. What would it feel like to enter such a sacred place?
On the Saturday before my Mother’s birthday, I got my chance and also one of God’s Winks. I attended St. Joe’s (as we used to call it). It was a magnificent place. Stone angels were perched at the front; richly textured stained glass abounded,
and tall steps led into the old-grey-stone building. When I arrived, I breathed a prayer and asked where to sit; and I sat in the middle on the right side, my usual place of worship in my home church of Saint Cecilia. The service was magical. Rev. Msgr. Lawrence Luciana had a wonderful presence of the Lord. We shared the Sign of Peace, and as I turned behind to my neighbor, I was blessed with one of God’s Winks. For there stood Tom Pettit, my old college beau who burted out, “Martha Wild King I thought you were a Presbyterian!!” I replied, “Tom Pettit; I thought you were a Lutheran!!” There we were: both Catholics. He and his family came into the Catholic Church in 2002, and my family entered in 2009-2010. What were the chances of me sitting exactly in front of him and his wife?
Indeed, it was one of God’s Winks, and a Wink I needed to know. For you see, each day when I pray the Rosary, on one of my beads, I focus on all of those fallen away Catholics whom I so long to return to the FULLNESS of the faith, and I also focus on the Protestants whom I love and desire to experience the RICHNESS of the Catholic Church I have found after searching for forty years. God showed me He is working in my prayers, for I sat in front of an answered prayer that I didn’t even know I was praying for! God Winked.