Sunday, November 22, 2015
Ring-Ring, God Calling
I know I’ve written a few posts in recent months (including that last one) about listening for God’s call, and making a difference in this world with our lives. I mentioned how (of course) He calls in that small, still voice, and how He sometimes uses the written word (Scripture or otherwise) to speak to us, and sometimes He even calls us through the people we meet. But I guess, as I was reminded last night, that perhaps if you aren’t getting it from all these other sources, He may just pick up the phone and call….
It was a dreary day, yesterday, the first snow of the season, and after my usual Saturday breakfast with a friend, I just hung around the house all day, watching the snow fall. So I guess I wasn’t surprised when the phone rang at about 7PM and I was told that, with the weather, people were having difficulty getting to the adoration chapel, so it was being closed for the night. My usual midnight adoration hours were cancelled. (I took this picture out my back door, of the snow-laden branches almost touching the ground around my deck.)
I sat down on the living room couch and said my usual night prayers, and read some meditations, but even as I looked up at the crucifix on the wall, well, I felt we just weren’t connecting. And as I took out my binder to write my end-of-day thoughts on what I had accomplished this day, I found myself looking at a blank page. What a wasted day. And so I arose and considered my plans for the rest of this quiet evening. …. Um, did I say the rest of MY plans?
At about 8PM the phone rang again: “Tom, this is Kaye. I’m up north and I just spoke with Deb. Her dad’s been rushed to the hospital, dying; she’s a wreck, and she’s afraid to drive in this weather in her condition.” (You may remember Deb from my post last Christmas, titled: Christmas Dinner at McDonalds. That day Deb could reach no one else that Christmas morning as her mother was rushed to the hospital, dying, and so she called me, and I spent Christmas day with her mom and family until the end.)
And so it was that I called Deb: “I’m just printing out directions to your house, and then to the hospital. I’ll be over in about a half hour to take you there.” Between her sobs Deb insisted the weather was too bad, and I shouldn’t come. “Wait a minute,” I responded. “God cancelled my visit with Him at His house this evening for a reason. Obviously it must be because He had something more important for me to do. Are you going to argue with God?” She laughed at that. I think that was a good sign.
The roads were pretty bad, driving through the 7 or 8 inches of snow we had, and the plow trucks rushing to their jobs threw up huge gobs of slush onto the windshield. And so of course my wipers decided to go into one of those brrk-brrk-brrk, screeeech; brrk-brrk-brrk, screech modes, just pushing the slop around in my line of sight. Looking for the street to turn on to reach Deb’s house, I realized that all the signs were covered in snow --- you could read none of them. This was going to be fun.
Deb was still a wreck when I reached her house; she was on the phone with her sister, who had reached the hospital. Things were very bad. I made her put her coat on and led her to my car, even as she continued to talk to her sister, and tell her we were on the way. We traveled the highways, expressways, major roads, and then dark two-lane roads through the countryside, where well over a foot of snow had fallen. We passed many cars in the ditch, but squinted on, trying to see our way through the twisting winding roads, in the middle of nowhere. We finally reached the remote hospital over an hour later, surprising the Emergency Entrance security guards: “No one’s out tonight; why are you here?” They gave us passes and we rushed to her dad’s room. He had died five minutes before we arrived.
Deb’s sister and brother and their spouses were there, and you can guess the scene. It was a difficult time. The hospital had called a priest, who arrived about a half hour after us, and he administered the last rites, and led us in prayer. He and the hospital staff were most caring people, even as they were that day Deb’s mom had died nearly a year ago. We waited for their brother to arrive; he lived in Grand Rapids, across the state, and normally a 3-hour drive away. But not tonight. We prayed, talked about dad and mom, and the good times and memories. And we knew Deb’s mom was once again yelling: “Paul, get over here!” And he was!
After a couple of hours, the normal shut-down events of a body began occurring, and the room became uncomfortable to stay in, and so the family called the still-distant brother and all agreed to call it a night. We said one final good-by, and headed home.
While Deb was on the phone with the funeral parlor, I turned out of the parking lot and began the long drive home; the snow still fell heavily. And it took all of about 3 minutes for me to peer into the total darkness ahead of me and say: “This isn’t right. I’m lost,” and so I stopped in the middle of the road --- the only car and only lights in any direction. After about 5 minutes Deb finished her conversation with the funeral home, and asked her phone for directions to take us home. It directed me to make an immediate u-turn. I guess I wasn’t surprised. The voice from the phone kept directing us to turn this way or that way at some street up ahead --- as if we could read any of the snow-covered street signs. But an hour or so later, we finally reached Deb’s house again, even as her brother was arriving from his trek across the state. It was a good ending to the night. (And those previous snarky comments I may have made on a post or two in the past, about how “I don’t need no stinking iphone apps”--- I may go back and erase them. If not for those directions to get us home I probably would have wandered around until I ran out of gas, or into some farmer’s field. It was a most useful device.)
It was after 2AM when I finally approached my home street, about the normal time for my coming home from adoration. Yes, God had a better plan for me. And as I looked ahead, the clouds parted in the sky in right front of me, and I could clearly see the full moon, smiling down. Now THAT was a good ending to this night.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
As I drove to mass this morning, the sun was shining brightly, and all the trees and every single branch were covered with a heavy coating of snow. It was like looking at heaven. I thought to take a picture of the beautiful scenery, but I figured there are plenty of those pictures around today. Instead I thought I’d include this picture, to remind me that today is just another day:
I went to the closet this morning and grabbed a handful of gloves --- it’s time, I guess, and putting them on the counter, this is what I saw: six left-handed gloves. Not a single right-handed one. Sheesh! Yep, this was going to be just another one of those days.
But as I write this, I have 40 hours until I take off to Phoenix and Thanksgiving with my nieces. And I realize how I have so very much to be thankful for.
I think I’ll leave the gloves at home.