This weekend I was blessed to travel to Idaho to celebrate Elise’s graduation with a Masters in Social Work. I have known Elise since she was 3 when I was her nanny…. She is now a married 28 year old with a passion for life and helping others, and it has been a beautiful thing to watch her growing into this strong, courageous, loving, funny young woman! We had arranged that she would pick me up from the airport, so when I landed I called and texted and got no response, so wandered outside to wait for her. She then called me from her mom’s phone to say they were about ten minutes away, so I sat on a bench to wait.
As I sat there I noticed out of the corner of my eyes a woman holding a piece of paper up in front of her face as though to shield her eyes from the sun. “That’s odd,” I thought, as it was dark outside, and not too bright. But the woman stood there, and then took a step or two towards me. I kept my eyes on the traffic, not sure of the car I was looking for that would hold Elise, and the woman inched her way closer to me, face still shielded by the piece of paper. Ten minutes had passed by now, so I looked even more intently at the cars pulling up to pick up their passengers. Still no Elise. Then the woman sat down next to me. I looked over to smile a welcome at her, and check to make sure I was safe…. And that was when I saw it was an old friend and colleague of mine, Paula, who I had taught with 15 years previously, and someone who had been Elise’s teacher for seven years! I jumped up and threw my arms around her, shocked and surprised, and heard laughter from behind the pillar where Elise and her mom and husband were hiding!
The week before I had suggested Paula hop in a car with Elise’s mom and join us, but she had responded that she was too busy preparing for the new school year, but instead, she had just decided to surprise Elise and me by coming! What a joy, and a weekend filled with laughter, love, memories, tears and celebration followed.
I think the Divine can be like this…. Sneaking up on us when we least expect it, coming towards us in disguise, waiting for us to recognize them, and, ultimately, filling us with joy, love and laughter. But how often we ignore Her, or shy away because we don’t immediately know who She is. We edge away on the bench, we turn our face, we even stand up and walk (or sometimes run) in the opposite direction, all because we are not curious about the unknown, or fear-filled about what is not easily recognizable.
The Psalmist reminds us that wherever we go, the Divine will always be there to surprise and guide and love and find us, which I find such a reassurance! The Voice translation of the Bible phrases it this way:
Can I go anywhere apart from Your Spirit?
Is there anywhere I can go to escape Your watchful presence?
If I go up into heaven, You are there.
If I make my bed in the realm of the dead, You are there.
If I ride on the wings of morning,
if I make my home in the most isolated part of the ocean,
Even then You will be there to guide me;
Your right hand will embrace me, for You are always there.
Even if I am afraid and think to myself, “There is no doubt that the darkness will swallow me,
the light around me will soon be turned to night,”
You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.
For You the night is just as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.
No matter if we are in the light or in a place that feels dark, the Divine is there, ready to embrace us and guide us and love on us. Our only job is to recognize Her through the layers of disguise and pain and fear and exhaustion we see with.
In these coming days I invite you to open yourself to be surprised by God! To smile at a stranger on a bench and see it is One who loves you. To feel the light surrounding you, even if you feel you are in a dark place. To observe the One sneaking closer to you and welcome the Presence and embrace. For these encounters lead to laughter, love, memories, tears and celebration!
May you be so blessed!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.