(Mr. Gnome dreams of spring)
When I was young and would count the days ‘til something exciting (like Christmas or summer vacation or my birthday, which is, by the way, this week) occurred, I’d say to Mama, “I wish it was next week already!”
She’d always look at me with a wistful smile and say, “Oh honey, don’t wish your life away. Life is precious.”
I think of that often, especially since Mama died much too soon of ALS. In her last days, she often reminded us of how precious life is. And I thought of it in the waning days of 2010, when I found myself counting the days until I could bid farewell to 2010, a year that was truly awful, on both a national and personal level.
We did have a White Christmas, though I wasn’t dreaming of it. It was a lovely snow—the kind that covers everything, transforming even the ugliest surfaces with its pure white magic. It was as if the Universe was trying to wipe the memories of all the awfulness of the year from my mind and to remind me to always look for beauty and to never forget that, even in the ugliest of situations, there is usually hope for transformation.
Thankfully, though, the snow was gone and the skies clear a week ago last Monday as Tom, Ariel, Benjamin, and I made our way in the darkness across our yard to wait for the Quadrantid meteor shower. We huddled together in the biting cold, our necks craned and our eyes on the northern skies.
As we waited, we reminisced about all the times as a family that we’d watched meteors streaking towards earth and told stories we’d heard from others about their meteor experiences. I told of one story I’d been told by someone we all knew. He’s one of those people who seem to live a charmed life, where blessings and good fortune seems to be an everyday thing (as illustrated by my story). He and his wife, after a perfect evening of celebrating their anniversary (and many happy and prosperous years), stepped out on their deck to look at the clear evening sky. He turned to his wife and said, “Wouldn’t it be the perfect end to the evening to see a falling star?”
Yep, you guessed it. At that very moment, a bright meteor streaked across the sky. Now, I was truly happy for them when I heard the story, but a small petulant voice in my head said, “Why always them, God? Why not me, too?” I always imagine God rolling his eyes when he hears that whiny voice in my head. It’s got to be really annoying.
So that night, as we searched the dark skies for Quadrantid meteors, I turned to Tom and said, “Go ahead—say it. Say, ‘Wouldn’t it be the perfect end to our evening to see a falling star?’” So Tom laughed and said it, and we all looked up eagerly, laughing…but hoping, too. Alas, we didn’t see a single meteor that night, though the stars were bright and beautiful.
So, the next morning, at 5:45AM, as Tom and I were standing on the porch (I get up with him to make his lunch and see him off to work every day), I mentioned that there was still the possibility of Quadrantid meteors, though the peak was the night before. I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we saw one right now?” We both looked towards the northeast, which was beginning to brighten slightly with the rising sun. Nothing. I sighed and kissed Tom goodbye, watching him make his way across the yard to his truck. Then I turned back towards the mountains, stars, and Venus visible in the East.
At that very moment, a meteor flashed directly across my line of sight—a brilliant, bright streak hurtling towards earth. It only lasted a split second, but I gasped, my mouth agape, and shouted, “Oh God!”
I laughed out loud then, imagining God answering and saying, “Yes? You called?”
I looked up and said, “Thank you,” knowing He was listening. He always is, even when I don’t sense it, just as meteors fall even when I’m not looking.
Sure, I know it could have been just a coincidence. Sometimes things like that are. But I don’t think this was. I think God knew just how badly I needed to see that, how much my puny faith needed that boost. It’s been a hard year, and sometimes we’ve just barely been able to dog paddle to keep our heads above water as wave after wave has washed over us. But, thank God, we are still paddling. We are still breathing, still looking upward, seeking always signs, wonders, and miracles. It’d be such a shame to miss a single one.
Because sometimes they happen when you don’t expect them, in the twinkling of an eye, when you’ve almost given up hope. Sometimes, God reveals Himself in surprising and even whimsical ways. For that, I am so grateful.