It’s been almost six years since my mother, whose lovely banner still graces this blog, passed away. And though I no longer mourn her loss in the intense way I did in the months following her death, every so often, something catches me – takes me by surprise- blessing me anew with memories of how faith-filled and strong she was —even the midst of struggle.
The blessing happened again recently as I was sorting through a desk drawer. This particular drawer was stuffed with old journals, letters and photos and, in an effort to thoughtfully thin the contents, I pulled everything out so I could sort into keep and toss piles. That’s when I discovered this:
I knew what it was immediately – one of my mother’s many sketchbooks, but I wasn’t sure exactly why it was in this drawer, since all the other contents were assorted papers of mine.
I have several sketchbooks of hers and they are all similar – a blend of notes to herself to remember – say – to pick up milk at the store – and sketches she made while sitting in concerts or coffee shops or parks.
I opened this sketchbook gingerly and it was an instant peek into her soul. Turning the pages, one by one, my heart filled with love for the hand that had etched each quick sketch and stylized ink creation, for they all reminded me of her. Here are some samples:
Then I turned the page and wow, just wow! Right before my eyes was the answer to a question I’d been longing to confirm for years —and regretting that I had not written down. It was like an answered prayer —and a renewed blessing to me.
In the spring of 2012, six months before my mother was diagnosed with ALS, but when she was starting to suspect something wasn’t quite right because she was struggling to regain her strength after back surgery, despite intense physical therapy sessions at the gym, she felt overcome by fear and anxiety. So one morning, during her prayer time, she asked God to please grant her faith, hope, and strength for the days ahead.
When she arrived at the gym she was in for a surprise. Her regular therapist was not in that day. Instead, a new therapist, one she had never seen before, greeted her. There was nothing particularly different about him. He was just an ordinary guy, but he was kind and sweet with my mom and very soon she noticed three special things about him. First, he had two crosses around his neck (FAITH!). Second, he had big tattoo on his right bicep that said HOPE! And, third, as my mom explained to me afterwards, he was very, very strong (STRENGTH!).
I remember the joy in my mom’s voice as she described this encounter to me, for she immediately saw God in the moment —using that therapist to bring her the promise of FAITH, HOPE and STRENGTH that she so longed for. And, given my mother’s sense of humor, it arrived in the perfect package.
It brought her such joy, indeed, that, later that day, she sketched it into her notebook —a soul-nourishing reminder that God hears us when we cry out to Him, and that if we are listening, and waiting expectantly, He will answer.
Those drawings were primarily for feeding her soul, of course, but my re-discovering them also fed my soul. For me, and I hope for you, too, her sketches are a much needed reminder not to underestimate the power of the still, small voice of God to speak to you in the midst of your struggles – most likely in the way you least suspect – such as through presence of this kind therapist whose appearance, which reflected all three attributes my mother had prayed for that day, was just what she needed.
Here’s my mind-boggling (at least to me), closing thought. When that therapist got dressed that day, I’m sure he had no idea that God would use his very presence to bless a worn and discouraged woman who needed a little boost of encouragement.
Think about it. Maybe this very week, or this very day, or this very morning, you might be God’s vehicle —in a way you haven’t even fathomed— to bring Light and Hope to another. I don’t know about you, but that sure motivates me to step out into this day, with all that it brings – in kindness and love.
May your week be filled with blessings —both received and given!