Here’s a question, perhaps two: Do you believe in signs? Do you have faith? In recent days, I’ve been inundated with signs and have all the more embraced my own concept of faith.
No boring you with details – well, not too many if you’ll humor me – but I look at the world around me and I’ve come to especially appreciate my friends, my loved ones, my passions, eccentricities and my faults. The faults I can work on and correct.
We all live through tough times, tough moments that test our mettle, and God willing, they make us stronger. And if we are wise, we learn that we are blessed by thoughts and deeds that make us reexamine our lives and renew our faith in those around us.
On this day, with two cups of coffee in my system and a discussion of faith with my beloved wife still weaving through my mind, I set out for a walk – allowing time to mull my thoughts and weigh answers to some haunting and daunting questions.
The summer sun when I set out was particularly enticing, yet in the distance, high clouds looming ocean gray were forming and heading my way. For a moment, I thought of turning around but I needed to continue, rain be damned should it come. It could only be cleansing and refreshing if it overtook me, and I would embrace it all the more.
I took a wide loop into town and the clouds grew darker. I set as my goal my own church on the far side of town: There, should it pour, I could find refuge amid a prayer of thanks for all that I hold dear. A raindrop or two touched my head gently, and I knew that I could take shelter at the drive-through overhang of a nearby bank. Still, I pressed on. With my church in sight, the drops began to intensify and I made a dash for the sacred safe harbor just as a deluge overtook me.
The last Mass had passed and a Christening was just finishing up as families in their Sunday best made for the door and took in the sight from the lobby of the steady pour. I stepped between them, my hand wiping at my wet hair and forehead. A distracted young mother guided a stroller and was followed by a not-so-old grandmother cradling an infant in a soft-blue blanket. As I held the door, she whispered: “The sky may cry but the blessing abound.” I smiled and nodded.
Making my way to the first pew up front, I knelt down, made a sign of the cross, said a prayer of thanks for myself and one of good fortune for the child and reached for my rosary.
Lost in thought, I could hear the families joyously laughing and waiting for soaked husbands, fathers to bring forth cars for the next stop in their celebration. With my fingers on my rosary beads and lost in though. I heard footsteps approach me. I turned and the church lady of the day was about to tap me gently on the shoulder.
“Sorry, but we’re about to close the church.”
I looked at her quizzically and glanced at my watch. I looked back at her and forced a smile.
“Can you give me a few minutes, please,” I asked.
“Well, all right, but it’s 2:30 and I’ve got to lock the doors. It’s been a long day,” she said. She looked befuddled.
“I’m certain God will understand,” I replied, fighting the urge to say to her that over the years, I had been either kicked out or asked to leave worse places that this sanctuary.
I finished my thoughts, my own prayers, said my thanks to a higher power and put away my rosary. In the lobby, the steady pour was all the more outside. The church lady, gray and lanky, stood to one side fingering her keys.
“See, you should have left earlier. Now you’re going to get soaked heading to your car,” she said, her voice bearing just a shade of embarrassment.
“I walked here, my dear. But I don’t think a little rain will kill me.” I eyed the roiling sky. In the distance, the clouds appeared to break and a ray of sunlight broke free and orange bright.
“After all, I have faith,” I said as I heard the click of a door lock behind me.