Tags: God | Works | Wondrous | Ways

God Works in Wondrous Ways

Tuesday, 10 May 2005 12:00 AM

You and I might dismiss such a treat as a "nice coincidence" or "Hey, missing a train is a small price to pay for running into an old friend!" Don't pull any of that laid-back stuff on Betsy. She prefers to envision God like a television director with His headset and mouthpiece in place watching half a dozen monitors while barking instructions to his intercom-connected teammates, such as:

"Okay, bring the train into the station now. Bring it in. Open the doors. Leave 'em open. Five more seconds. Good. Now let the blonde hurrying through the turnstiles dash down the platform. Let her dash. Let her dash a liiiiitle bit more. NOW, shut the doors. Quick. Shut the doors. Don't let her get into the train. Shut the door in her face. Good. Just right. Now let her turn around forty-eight degrees. Great. Just right. Now make sure SHE sees HIM! Good work, team. Now protect your eardrums against another outburst about Me and My 'wondrous ways.'"

While I personally never viewed God as some sort of cosmic bellboy there to hear and heed my requests and aspirations, who among us, from the peasant to the pope, can prove Betsy's view incorrect? What if Betsy's right? Does your personal religion permit you to stretch that far? Mine does. So, what if Betsy's right?

How big a coincidence can you dismiss as just a "coincidence" without dipping into the spiritual soup kettle of Godly intervention? Let me hand you a big one. Can you dismiss it?

Donald Herbert is a fireman from Buffalo, N.Y., who got trapped under rubble trying to rescue victims of a fire and became a non-communicating "vegetable" for ten years. (Sound familiar?) All of a sudden he piped up and said, "I want to talk to my wife." And hero Don Herbert said that exactly one month after the starvation-dehydration death of Terri Schiavo.

We can only imagine the unbridled joy of Don Herbert's family filling him in, documentary-style, on everything he'd missed since he went into the "persistent vegetative state" ten years ago.

Dr. Joseph Fins, chief of the medical ethics division at New York-Presbyterian-Weill Cornell hospital, was quoted in the fabled New York Times as saying: "This is a phenomenon that is being frequently reported. It may be just the tip of the iceberg and the question is, how deep is it, what is the extent, and what are the predictors of this kind of reclaiming of consciousness?"

Come again, Dr. Fins? You say this sudden regaining of brain function after years and years is a phenomenon that is being FREQUENTLY REPORTED? Where were you when your professional colleagues were table-poundingly agreeing that Terri Schiavo had no chance at all of any kind of meaningful recovery and was better off dead?

Maybe you think I'm spinning and stretching to make the condition of Donald Herbert appear more similar to that of the late Terri Schiavo? Listen again to the fabled New York Times: "Before his awakening Mr. Herbert was blind and virtually silent. Family members said he had not recognized them for years. Details of his recovery are murky but neurologists said yesterday that his symptoms suggested that he had suffered damage to multiple areas of his brain because of a lack of oxygen for several minutes at the time of the accident."

Now let's listen to Dr. Alan Carver, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine: "He has classic signs of hypoxic damage. It's not hard to understand what happened to his brain in 1995. What is remarkable is to think that after ten years of being like this, the brain should show evidence of regeneration, because when cells don't get oxygen for a prolonged period of time, they die."

Dr. Fins again: "There appears to be a window of time to move into this minimally conscious state, and from that there is a chance of recovering at a distant time."

Does anybody out there recall major celebrities of neurology speaking out and pinpointing Terri's chances of "recovering at a distant time"? My oxygen-satisfied but often distracted brain does not.

At the tail end of the New York Times coverage of Don Herbert's stupendous recovery I slipped and got my hopes up a little too high. The words on the page were "The case with perhaps the most parallels to Mr. Herbert may be that of …" I'd have bet Super Bowl-type money that the next words would be "Terri Schiavo."

And I'd have lost!

The most parallels, according to the fabled New York Times, may be that of Terry Wallis, a mechanic in Arkansas who slipped into a coma and then minimal consciousness at the age of 19 after a car accident. "He was largely unresponsive, but could track objects with his eyes and even respond to some commands periodically. His family was told that he was unlikely ever to recover. But in 2003, after more than eighteen years of virtual silence, he suddenly perked up and began speaking."

A quote from Dr. Fins ends the New York Times coverage: "There are cases that we're only finding out about sporadically. It really calls for an epidemiological study that can find out how many other patients like this are out there lingering in nursing homes."

And, as Porky Pig used to say, "That's all, folks!"

The fabled New York Times chillingly (to me, not to them), exactly one month after the starvation-dehydration of Terri Schiavo, brought forth expert professional opinion from doctors attesting to the "not as rare as we thought" recovery of those who had been labeled "persistent vegetables."

AND NOT A ONE OF THEM LINKED A CONNECTING COMMENT TO THE CASE OF TERRI SCHIAVO!

Why do those heavily educated journalists and neurologists need Mrs. Farber's little boy to point out the connection between Don Herbert and Terri Schiavo? Apparently to the New York Times and others, Terri Schiavo has become an "un-person" – the same way Soviet Minister of the Interior Lavrenti Beria and even Stalin were after they were purged by Khrushchev.

And Betsy, the next time you come barging in disturbing the peace of our office raving about God's wondrous ways, no one will shut you off or even shush you down.

I might even stand up myself, call for attention, and extol the coincidence that's a bit too coincidental to dismiss as merely a coincidence: namely, the coincidence of Buffalo fireman Don Herbert snapping out of his persistent vegetative state precisely one month after the passing of Terri Schiavo. There are over 200 countries in the world where that could have happened. It happened to happen in the same country as Terri Schiavo's misfortune! And in the same language.

Do the math. One exact calendar month. And in the same country as Terri Schiavo. And in the same language.

You used to have to sign for telegrams to assure the sender you got the message. I didn't NEED this particular message. I strongly believed we did wrong by Terri Schiavo from the get-go. Did you get the message? Did America and the world get the message? Those votes are hard to count.

Yes, Betsy. You win. God DOES work in "wondrous ways."

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You and I might dismiss such a treat as a "nice coincidence" or "Hey, missing a train is a small price to pay for running into an old friend!"Don't pull any of that laid-back stuff on Betsy.She prefers to envision God like a television director with His headset and...
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Tuesday, 10 May 2005 12:00 AM
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