A Wish or a Prayer

When I was 9, growing up in the tiny rural village of Kendall, I fervently wished for a bike for Christmas.

Not my sister's second hand bike, not the old rusty bike  I had inherited from the tip, but a brand new  shiny bike, all of my very own. One  that I wouldn't have to share. Despite going to Sunday School, despite having a father with a strict Salvation Army background, I did not pray for a new bike.. I just wished for one.

Every time the chain came off the rusty old bike I wished.

Every time I had to patch a puncture, I wished.

Every time I fell off the rusty bike , grazed myself and got grease up my legs I wished.

Every night as we said Grace at the dinner table I added a big wish to the prayer.

Christmas morning dawned and there was no bike... no new shiny bike, no 2nd or 3rd hand bike... not a bike to be seen under the Christmas tree.

I  was shattered, privately disappointed, but being a stoic baby boomer, we didn't tend to complain too much, but just got on with it. I recall heading to the outback dunny to have a secret tear and complain to the 'wish fairy', but, on my return no bike had materialized.

So much for Santa Claus and wishing for a special Christmas present !

However there was a twist to that Christmas day, and after all the presents were distributed I was led on a hunt  for being first in my class..... the prize at the end of the hunt a brand new shiny blue bike.. My pride and joy.  All my wishing was worth it.

I rode that shiny blue bike everywhere. To the river to swim , to school, to my friends, all around the village of Kendall, and because I now had  reliable  'wheels' beyond the perimeter of where I was allowed to go safely, but mum drew the line over me riding it to Sunday School. In the blink of an eye my faith in Santa Claus and wishes had been restored.

Fast forward many years later as a young mother when I was having my 3rd baby.  She was rushed to the Children's Hospital in Sydney gravely sick with a lung complication. Did I wish, or pray for her to survive? I prayed and prayed.... to a deity somewhere.

When I was diagnosed with CNS complications of Lupus with Children at School and University, did I wish they would keep me alive until my children had completed their education.. or pray?

Pray of course.

Wishing seems to me something we do when we are little children with the innocence and purity of childhood. As we grow, mature and experience some of what 'life' throws at us we toss in a few prayers as well.... somehow they seem to carry more weight, and a less self indulgent!

A wish is granted.

A prayer is answered.

- Venette Hedges