My daughter and I experienced a “God moment” this week together. I do not know if there is a formal definition of “God moment,” but I could define it as a way that God speaks to me in the ways of my every day, normal, mini-van-driving-mom existence – through an unexpected experience, a “chance” or not-so-chance encounter with someone or something, a song on the radio, or a scripture reading – however you might define it. But it clearly leaves me with a sense that God and His Holy Spirit are truly with me. And I do not mean that in a creepy way – just a true sense of what I already know in my heart and soul but often forget – that God is with me at every moment of every day if I would just open myself up to Him.
I think we all know that God speaks to us in many ways: through His Word, through other people, in the Sacraments, and the list goes on. It is not every day that we see a billboard from God screaming: “Hey! Yeah! YOU! I’m talking to YOU!” However, God chooses to “wink” at us all the time in unique and personal ways that says, “I see you. I’m here. I want you to hear my voice today and always.” The trick is opening your heart, mind and incredibly busy existence to how He wants to speak to us.
My daughter is going down a path that is different from many of her friends and classmates as she prepares for her future. It is right for her, but may not be right for others. Some of her friends are supportive, encouraging and curious. Other friends are disdainful and making her question her choices and her dreams. We were watching a program on TV the other night together, and the excitement it created in her was contagious. We took what we learned and jumped on the internet to learn more. We were both excited, and knew that this very random show on a random night was no accident – no coincidence. A God-incidence, perhaps?
A friend of mine shared with me a story about a special sign in her life. She was going through a challenging time with one of her adult sons. In the midst of it, lady bugs began to visit her daily. They literally starting appearing all the time and in many different places. As a devout Catholic, she looked up the significance of this. She learned that the lady bug is actually named for “Our Lady’s Bug.” In the middle ages, a pestilence invaded the land, and the people asked Mary to intercede on their behalf. Lady bugs swarmed the land, and ate the pests. My friend knew in her heart that the lady bugs in her situation were there for her uniquely – it was her mom (who gifted her the special devotion to Mary) letting her know to give it all to Mary and to trust in her intercession with God. She loved the lady bug visits, and through them, she learned to trust. One day, she realized that the lady bugs had not been to visit in a while. She realized that her son was in a wonderful place, and that peace, at least for a time, had come back to her family. She prayed that the lady bugs had moved on to someone else who needed those sweet little visits as much as she did.
I have also heard that cardinals have long been a Christian symbol of visiting those who have been saddened by a loss – in particular, a “Cardinal Loss” or a heart-rendering loss of a loved one. I am no theologian, so please do not quote me, but birds have long symbolized the soul’s ascent to God above material things.
The cardinal has traditionally held spiritual meaning in the Christian faith. The cardinal’s distinctive red color symbolizes the blood of Christ, representing the everlasting vitality of Christ’s blood and the fire of the living spirit. (source: reference.com)
I first heard of the visit from a cardinal from a very devout friend of mine after her long-time partner died of cancer. When I saw a bright red cardinal by the marsh where my dad and I always loved to fish, I was shocked and amazed – I had never in more than 20 years seen a cardinal there. Now, after losing both my mother and father in a few short years, I regularly see male and female cardinals outside my kitchen window – and cardinals mate for life. Coincidence? Easily. A God-wink from my Father in Heaven letting me know my parents are OK? Possibly.
Either way, my faith is renewed, and my hope is restored. Bring on the cardinals. Bring on the lady bugs.
To the God-moments and God-winks in our lives!