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Thursday, June 05, 2008

God's Little Connections

Something amazing happened today, and as it was happening, it didn't even seem weird, although it should have.

I had to run some errands for work and stopped at Wal-Mart. I drove around the lot looking for a space near my partner in mass-event shopping, and as I stepped out of my car, saw an SUV waiting in the aisle behind me. The woman had her window down and signaled to me; she was obviously waiting to speak to me.

For a moment I wondered if I should recognize her from somewhere? She didn't look angry so I figured I hadn't inadvertantly cut her off or something. I wondered if she was going to tell me I had a flat tire? (That happened to me when I was 16...)

But no, that wasn't it. She indicated my "Relevant Radio 1330" (a local Catholic radio station) bumper sticker and gestured for me to come closer to listen as she turned up her radio. Indeed, she was listening to Relevant Radio, and she explained that she saw my bumper sticker and so HAD to follow me around the lot in hopes of speaking to me.

It was strange; I should have been maybe a little weirded out by a strange woman following me around a parking lot just because of a bumper sticker for a station she liked. But for some reason, I wasn't, and in looking back, she seemed a bit bamboozled by her own behavior of following a stranger around a parking lot with regard to a bumper sticker!

But it wasn't strange and I can't explain why. It seemed perfectly natural. And it was. She went on talking, as though seeking an explanation for her reason for wanting to speak to me, explaining that she used to have that bumper sticker and had bought a new vehicle and no longer had one.

Immediately, almost as though someone whispered it in my ear or even more, to my heart, I remembered that I'd picked up some extra bumper stickers from church thinking I'd run into someone who needed one. Not really sure if they were still in my car or any good if they were, and seeing that a car was patiently waiting for us to stop blocking the way, I asked the woman to wait a moment as I thought I had some extras. So as I went to my car, she pulled aside to let the other car pass.

I opened my back door, looked in the pocket behind the passenger seat, and initially found nothing. I was about to go to the trunk when something told me to look again...and immediately they appeared between some map books! I grabbed a couple and chose the better one, victoriously returning to the SUV and handing it to the astounded stranger.

She was amazed, but for some reason, I wasn't. I'm certain that this woman doesn't regularly follow strangers around mega-store parking lots in order to chat about random things. I'm certain she was surprised at doing so. My guess is that this was something on her mind for some reason, and God or maybe her Guardian Angel prompted her to follow me, knowing that I had what she needed, and knowing, of course, that I'm not a psychospaz. (My friends may disagree....)

The woman literally stared at my car, at the bumper sticker and at me, thanking me, saying "God bless you!" and I said the same back to her as I went on.

I wasn't surprised for some reason. This seemed perfectly normal to me, yet still extraordinary for I realized God had just connected two strangers over a simple item. And yet, I am surprised, even flabbergasted. It's not like I could make this up!

It's Happened Before...

I was once on the receiving end of such a grace, and so I understand this woman and her behavior.

Several years ago, when I was really seeking God and really lost, I had one good Catholic friend. She attended a decent parish and one at which I was comfortable; it wasn't wacky. I didn't go to Mass often, but I was beginning to attend more and more often. One day I arrived early for Mass and as usual, went to the back of the church, on the left side, and knelt down, praying. I was really lonely for some reason that night, and was even near tears. I wanted to see my friend there, but I wasn't sure if they attended that Mass. I was tired of being a stranger every time I went to Mass, although I didn't want to go somewhere that was "in your face" about "welcoming". (I've always been a bit of an introvert.)

Something told me to look up, so I did, and there, walking down the aisle, was my friend, first with an expression of confusion, then recognition, then joy as she saw me. She invited me up to sit with her and her family. They always sat in the front row as she had a little boy with special needs and if he could see what was going on, he was wonderfully behaved during Mass.

Happily, I walked with my friend towards the front, although somewhat sheepishly as I was so accustomed to seating myself anonymously at the rear.

Later, after Mass, my friend explained that they'd arrived as usual, took their usual pew and as she prayed, suddenly she was prompted to get up and walk down the center aisle towards the back of the church. She had no need to go there for anything...even the bathrooms were in a large hall to the side of the sanctuary. But the feeling wouldn't go away so she obeyed, feeling very confused. Then, as she neared the doors, she saw me and realized what she was supposed to do.


He hears the smallest prayers, and answers the tiniest desires of our hearts. He gives us what we need. That day, although I was accustomed to being alone and unnoticed and usually liked to be so, and lacked courage to sit closer to Our Lord, He sent a friend to invite me. And that invitation, no less, to be seated in the very front row.

Although the gesture was simple, it was profound for it told me that God knew I was there and He desired that I be closer to Him. While I was content with remaining far away, afraid to come closer, He desired that I be a part of His family in a very real way. So God spoke to me through my friend, revealing His love, both through prayer and through human friendship.

I don't know why God sent that woman to follow me today, and I don't know what our exchange means to her. Maybe she needed a sign of God's love, just as I did in that moment so long ago. Or maybe it was a simple thing that goes far beyond that exchange.

We never know how or when God will call us to do something, but today He revealed to me a profound example of the connection between members of the Mystical Body of Christ. I immediately recognized the woman as a friend, as she had a rosary similar to mine (even the same color) dangling from her rearview mirror. It was as if we knew one another, and it didn't matter that we'd never actually met.

Yet I'm amazed, and humbled, that God would connect two souls in such a way, and even make it seem to be so natural.

We have to remember to be open to God at every moment. We never know when He will ask us to do something, and we will never know what small humble thing will have the greatest impact.



Anonymous said...

Yes, God is truly amazing! Once when I was in undergrad, I was on the Parish Council as a Student my name was on the bulletin board. (I remember this evening as if it was yesterday!).

It was late. She was hanging around with some 'fundamentalist friends' and they started harrassing her about coming over to their apartments. She got a funny feeling and started walking away - they followed.

She started running, unknowing where she was going. She ended up at the back of the Newman Center. One of the back doors was open (Newman had been closed for hours).

She walked to the front of the Church searching for a phone. She found one at an old receptionist desk (which never worked) - put the receiver back on and called ME! She was panic-stricken on the phone. She did not want to go back to her apartment since they knew where she lived.

Since I did not have a car & I lived on the other side of campus (HUGE campus), I called a friend who lived near - she was still up! She went to get this girl & brought her back to my dorm.

I contacted the rectory & asked if this girl could meet with one of the Priests.
We set up a time the next day. I had to go to work, but she could spend the night until I had to leave (by then it would be nearly 9:00am and her meeting was at 10).

We became good friends. A year later, she joined the Catholic Church and I was her Sponsor!

God is truly amazing!


uncle jim said...

you seem to be having a lot of those 'close encounters' in your life.
like maybe you got friends in 'high places?'

Anonymous said...

Well - I'm not the one who chose 'Lillian' as my Confirmation Name - that was TOTALLY the Holy Spirit!
*grin* LM

Anonymous said...

THere are no coincidences ... only Godinctinces.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

it's amazing how God chooses to work :)

uncle jim said...

if i used my middle initials [baptism and confirmation names], they'd be 'WC' [Willard Charles] all my brit & aussie friends would think they meant 'water closet' and i'd be the butt of all their jokes ... so i don't use my middle initials much

Anonymous said...

WC is better than BC (Baptist Church getting mistaken for Bathroom Closet). LOL (sorry - love that joke!)

And regarding the story behind the name... well, that will just have to wait until July. sorry charlie! LOL

Leticia said...

God can really use those who arent' afraid to look foolish in the world's eyes when they follow His promptings.
Keep up the good work!