Signs

As a young girl, I remember my mom telling me I shouldn’t be asking God for signs — evidence that S/he really existed, or really cared about me. I was supposed to trust that God was there and to assume that S/he cared about me, and everyone else while S/he was at it. If that didn’t seem at all evident to me, the fault was mine, not God’s.

In the arrogance of my teen years, I decided my mother’s answer was meant to silence me, not to guide me. I don’t think she was any surer of the presence of God than I was, but to her this was a respectable answer, and one that I found non-refutable.

It stopped my awkward questions, but it also distanced me from God. The God of my mother held all the good cards, all of the time. That made a certain sense — we were talking about a god, after all — but I found him (for male he definitely was) unavailable. The only trust I had in that kind of god was that whatever happened around me, good or bad, was the result of the god’s inscrutable intentions. I didn’t think such a god was much use to me.

Like many young folks, I abandoned the search for God in my college years. My gods became money, status, appearance, cleverness, position — all the trappings of a Madison Avenue life. The signs of these gods were all around me; the orange Karmann Ghia convertible named Pumpkin, the wall-length closet full of clothes, the trendy dinners and “in” friends, the right job, the properties and investments and thick wad of credit cards.

The teeny little voice that whispered questions of dissatisfaction in my ear was easy to ignore — for awhile.

The problem was I kept bumping into … signs.

Sometimes it was another person, setting aside their own desires to help someone else. Or the gentle companionship of an animal; the thousand-yard stare of a newborn child; the beauty of stained glass windows; the gentle chant of a forest stream; the challenge of a Bach cantata; the dazzle of a pre-storm sunrise …

What I had wanted was God-On-Call; a Divinity who would “hop to” when I felt I needed a little holy jolt. What I found was a God who was hopping to all the time, flooding me with beauty, love, wonder, mystery, glory. All I had to do was notice it.

So today, with temperatures in the November range and a soaking, chilly rain, I went looking for signs. Here’s what I found:

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