In the old days, God made himself known through signs and wonders. Jesus worked miracles. Prophets dreamed dreams and had visions. But what about today?
Well, if we can keep this just among ourselves, I’ll tell you…God gets my attention through little stuff no one else would notice.
Like 11:11. It’s the date of my grandfather’s birthday: 11/11/11. A cool number. Amazing how many times it comes up on my cell phone or digital watch just as I have made a decision or am departing a challenging event or wondering whether I have done the right thing. I even got it on a Panera receipt. The cashier probably wondered why I was so excited.
Then there is my chiming watch. (I’ve written about it here before.) It chimes the exact hour, every hour. Amazing how many times its sound coincides with just the moment I begin a new thing or wonder whether I should take a different tack.
Or the whirligig that landed on my writing table, just as I was beginning the last book edit? I remember watching those helicopter down to the ground, fascinating me with their flight.
Let’s not forget the deer grazing – sometimes one, sometimes several – who seem oblivious to their message for me: I am with you in this.
I headed out to collect the paper yesterday and my eyes fell upon this.
Come on, this is the stick figure house I always drew, well, still draw because I am not much of a draw-er. Can you believe the detail? No other twigs or branches or greenery or mulch in sight. Just this, smack dab at the end of my driveway, as if it was placed there, for my pleasure. It even launched a ditty in my head. “our house … is a very, very, very fine house…”
God and I have developed quite a few “signs and wonders” in our special language over the years. These things wouldn’t probably attract any one else’s attention. But they do, mine. But where did they come from? I’m not talking superstition, here. I mean really, who gave me these ideas?
Well, Bampa gave me 11:11. I accidentally activated the chime on an excursion my youngest and I took together to a crazy event. She also introduced me to faces thanks to Dairy Queen’s curlicue softserve. The whirligigs are a product of my childhood friends. Observing deer arrived first on the way to deliver one of my children by scheduled C-section. Thank goodness for that doe. All these, and so many more, are the collection of stories that have left a memento. Other peoples’ stories that have intersected with my own and become a part of mine. Entwined as sign and wonder.
So, the small twig house at the end of the driveway? Do you suppose God was just showing off? Or do you think He intended me to sing? Sing/sign? Pretty close. Might just be coincidence.
I met an angel yesterday. She had floppy, shoulder length blond hair and pale blue eyes and she talked pretty much non-stop. Her name is Natalie. She’s 6 and in the first grade.
I got a chance to talk to Natalie because her parents were doing parent stuff. Talking to other adults, answering questions, solving problems. Natalie was standing quietly by. But when you looked in her direction, her eyes sparkled, inviting you in. So I asked her a question and it turns out that Natalie is a genius. Every kid is when they are 6.
We got to talking about first grade, and homework which was “reading” and she has to record her “minutes” in a log book and “I have to do an hour of reading kindergarten books” which “I am finished with now” so “I can read chapter books” about ponies and girls and “I REALLY want a pony” and … ‘My Mom wanted a pony when she was little’ (that was me sticking my nose in her story so I stopped)… and “each girl has a pony” and she told me their names, the ponies and the girls, and the ponies talk, or they whinny and then the girls translate what the ponies say because, of course, children can do this, and…
I told Natalie she should write a story and that I was a writer who had trouble coming up with good names, and she pulled out her pocket book of turquoise writing paper and listed 8 or 9 of her favorites in short order. Then, she suggested a plot. She didn’t call it this, of course; it was just the story. And there was magic and fun and, when I suggested something might go wrong that had to be righted by the characters, she invited in a new character – from among the names already listed – and made her the antagonist. Natalie knew what an antagonist was. Good kindergarten teacher or good parenting, I’m not sure.
And then her parents looked over at the two of us talking. I’m not sure Natalie noticed her parents because she was talking, but they gave me a, “thanks for keeping our little girl busy while we carry on here” look. And I smiled and went back to our conversation. I wasn’t doing this for them; I was doing it for me. This was no charity work. Natalie was an angel.
Because I had asked God, what am I to do with my writing this fall. And He introduced me to Natalie, who is of course a genius of the very first order. The kind who doesn’t know it. She just is and she delights and blesses whatever she touches. And she touched me. I love this kid.
And God said…Write to her. Write for her. Be inspired by her. Love her in story. Anywhere there is love, I am.
And her parents thought I was just being tolerant listening to their delightful first grader who is an only child and “that’s good because she doesn’t have to share with a brother or sister” but she has friends – including the one who has a pony which is how all this got started – and it’s more fun to “do fun things with someone else” and “she would help her friend clean the stalls” in exchange for “letting her ride the pony.” Did I mention that Natalie really wants a pony?
And I, in my adultness, had been so preoccupied with writing the happy ending, I forgot about the love in the middle. The engine that drives the story. The desire that saves the story, every time. We, Natalie and I, have’t come up with the ending yet. But I suspect it will be happy. Kid’s stories always have a happy ending. That’s how they know when they’re finished. “The end.”
Oh, I was not just engaging Natalie in polite conversation as a distraction for her parents. This was God’s idea. Every love story is.