There are moments in life that freeze us in place, temporarily stopping us in our tracks and leaving us groping for balance, redefining everything we once knew. And then there are moments that mobilize us, stir a call to action. In those times we band together, somehow sensing that we’re stronger as one.
The death of six-year-old Trussville resident Maggie Bowles created both.
Wispy. Delicate. Precious. She was all of these things.
A photo of Maggie in a softball jersey reveals her tiny frame as the purple fabric shifts to one shoulder. In another she balances on a rock in the Cahaba River, willowy arms and legs extended in the sheer bliss of the moment. Even in the photos, she is a tiny little girl in a big world.
Spunky. Fierce. Strong.
These attributes seem at odds with the delicate little blonde in the photos. Yet for those who knew her, they are right on target. There’s a certain innate confidence as she smiles at the camera, a sideways mischievous grin as she captures a fellow teammate in a headlock of a hug. And then there’s Maggie in a Wonder Woman outfit in her father’s arms, red patent-leather boots dangling below knobby little knees. An aspiring superhero on Halloween.
We never imagine that such a young life will be cut short, that what we view as a natural order of birth and death will be turned upside down. And yet, six days following a tragic car accident, family, friends and a community spanning the globe were forced to say goodbye.
It is medically accurate to say that for six days before her death Maggie was in a coma. But that would be only a fraction of her story, a huge omission of what was important. Because for six days a little superhero named Maggie Bowles brought together a community of people to form an unplanned and even unlikely ministry that was born out of the purest of reasons – love for a little girl.
It started as a method to pass along updates about Maggie’s condition, a closed Facebook group called Miracle for Maggie that would be for family and friends that wished to pray for healing. But the initial group quickly swelled from a handful to thousands. Miracle for Maggie now has 19,693 members.
Those who use social media know that interaction is sometimes wounded, emotional and raw. And not always in the best of ways. But there was and is something special about what is now being called Maggie’s Ministry. The “wounded,” “emotional” and “raw,” was a beautiful thing. And for every one of these emotions expressed, there was an outpouring of love.
After all, a very special child was present. Maggie’s presence on the Facebook page feels as tangible as her faith in God and the faith of her parents, Kelly and Shawn Bowles, as well as her aunt, Leigh Stovall, who often posts updates.
During Maggie’s hospital stay, the community of Trussville hit its knees in prayer, focusing on a funny, lively, innocent child that embodied goodness and light. For six days, priorities were rearranged and problems that once seemed large became small. Pink ribbons suddenly lined the streets, balloons were released, and a candlelight prayer vigil was held. The Bowles family was supported in countless, personal ways. New photos and stories of Maggie popped up on the Miracle for Maggie page, a sweet reminder of the many lives she touched.
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