On Sunday May 28, 2017, which also happened to be the Feast of the Ascension, there appeared on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and New York Times two articles related to death and dying. "7 Days Lost: Fear, spirituality, tears and peace" was the feature story in the Tribune. Madeline Connelly, a River Forest native, survived without any supplies for seven days in the Montana wilderness. Her Catholic Parish back home, St. Luke's, held prayer services for her. Connelly said, “I felt like I was being carried through it. I didn’t know all these people were praying for me and looking for me but, after I got out, it made a lot of sense for why I felt so safe and energized. The power of prayer and positive thinking is real.”
Contrast this with "The Death and Life of John Shields," the story from the Times about a man living in Canada who chose to end his life by lethal injection. Terminally ill, John Shields mapped out his last days on earth, even planning and attended his own wake. From the article: “Having control over the terms of his death made [Shields] feel empowered over the disease rather than crippled by it...”
Power is a great temptation. We want control. If we only followed Connelly's actions and surrendered to prayer and God, we would find ourselves at peace. Surrender is the more selfless action, as opposed to fighting for power, and God usually brings forth much fruit from selflessness. Connelly not only survived, but strengthened her family and community back home, rekindled her father's faith, and left us a powerful lesson.
Before his injection, Shields sang Gershwin's "Who Could Ask for Anything More?" While lost, Connelly sang "You are my sunshine." I know who my model is.