BURRILLVILLE — Before the birth of her grandson, Beverly Munyon prayed for a healthy child, never imagining the difficulties in store for their family when that prayer did not come true. When her grandson Samuel faced life-threatening health conditions and emergency surgeries at mere days old, she never could have imagined how much good God could bring out of such suffering.
Only in hindsight, with the long hours of prayer and worry behind them, could she see the blessings, saying, “God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, used this to bring so many miracles out of it that wouldn’t have happened if he had been born a normal, healthy boy.”
She shared this tale of miracles and spiritual growth in her recently published book, “The Boy of Many Miracles (And My Spiritual Journey as a Result).” In it, she recalls the early days of Samuel’s life, when the child who seemed healthy at birth soon found himself at death’s door, whisked away to Massachusetts General Hospital for testing and emergency surgeries.
For four months, four Rhode Islanders – Munyon and her husband Ezra, her daughter Marie and son-in-law Tom – managed to squeeze into one small hospital room in Boston to stay near the infant as he underwent lifesaving operations and care for his affliction with neonatal hemochromatosis, a rare and life-threatening disease associated with the accumulation of excess iron in the liver and other parts of the body.
“During this, God did something on my soul each time, and that’s in there, too, how God worked,” Munyon said in an interview with Rhode Island Catholic on the release of her book.
Samuel is now 23. He still lives with disabilities due to his early struggle to live, when he made medical history with the first of two liver transplants at two months old. The book documents the numerous miracles that God granted him and his family, not only his survival but other astonishing interventions the family experienced.
The book began in the form of Munyon’s spiritual writings from that time. Tucked away in a file cabinet for more than 20 years, she had never expected her musings to see the light of day, much less become a book, but an encounter at church changed her mind.
While in conversation with a woman she had never met before, Samuel’s story spilled out, and the other woman asked if she had written anything about it. Munyon sent her the journal, to which the woman urged her to publish it for others to read and gain inspiration. Munyon kindly thanked her, and immediately put the thought out of her mind. But she said, “when God puts something on your heart” it would not be denied. So, she casually looked for publishers. Unfortunately, most printing fees were beyond her financial reach.
“But it kept right here,” she said, touching her heart, “and I knew, I just knew God was not going to let up until I wrote this book.”
So, the parishioner of Our Lady of Good Help/St. Theresa Church in Burrillville performed another quick internet search that brought up Covenant Books, a Christian publisher based out of South Carolina, with fees that she could afford. Though she expected a rejection notice, she instead received an immediate response that this story needed to be told.
For Munyon, telling Samuel’s part was easy. Telling her personal voyage of spiritual growth was much, much harder. “That was very private to me,” she shared. “But you can’t write the book without — it goes together. I had to say, ‘ok I’ll do it.’”
Spiritual growth isn’t always pretty, yet she knows that the accompanying pain is necessary.
“It’s suffering and standing by the cross that makes us grow,” Munyon said.
She has also learned not to question God and his plans; instead, she prays for his will in all things, even when it might be hard.
The book is about miracles, certainly, but for Munyon, it is about hope, something she believes is desperately needed right now, particularly after the pandemic. She wants no credit for her work, but only for others to gain hope from reading her book.
“God is waiting to show us his mercy and love and faithfulness, not just in big things … He’s waiting to show us his blessings.”
One of those blessings came in the form of a church near Massachusetts General Hospital that the four of them visited often.
She spoke of an older priest at St. Joseph Parish who spoke in a homily about why he was happy despite his ailments. She could not erase his words from her mind, and asked herself over and over if she was happy. Finally, she had to answer, “‘yes, I’m happy because I belong to God, and he belongs to me.’ Those words had stuck with me all those years. No matter what’s going on around me, I have that joy because we belong to each other.”
Though she never would have asked for the trials the family experienced, she can look back and see God’s hand in everything, even simple things like a humorous story that occurred early on while staying at Massachusetts General.
After hours of waiting and praying in their small room, hospital staff urged the foursome to go outside for a walk. Wandering aimlessly, they were stunned to find themselves at the finish line of a race, cheered on and rewarded with ice cream by race personnel. They laughed about it, but Munyon reflects to this day on the deeper meaning of the incident.
“God used that to show me that no matter what happened, if Samuel lived or if Samuel died, that communion of saints was cheering us on. They were cheering us on – the saints in heaven, the people around us – and we were going to have the victory and pass the test and finish the race.
“And I hope to get more than an ice cream,” she said with a joyful laugh.
“The Boy of Many Miracles,” is available for purchase on Barnesandnoble.com, in both paperback and eBook formats. The Boy of Many Miracles is available at the Shrine of the Little Flower bookstore and gift shop. If the shop is not staffed, simply ring the bell and someone can help you!