By Judith Costello
“It is ludicrous to think of God as our private in-grown toenail healer!” I read.
Yikes, it seemed harsh! The author was saying that too many people pray for help with this little thing or that little thing. And that is the extent of their relationship with God. The author went on to say that we are called into a relationship which asks us to learn about God and serve him — asking for less, giving more.
I was ruminating on this as I went to pick up Peter at school. Life does seem to be a series of little events that take up too much of our attention. But I was wondering if the real problem is that we don’t step back to see the big picture of God’s presence. We can learn about him if we open our eyes and listen to the “still small voice.” Here’s one of those everyday things that just happened: “This stopwatch is on loan to you for the next two months,” Coach explained to the cross country team members. “Whatever you do, don’t lose it!”
Doesn’t it always seem to work like this: You tell kids “don’t” and that’s what they “do.” Sure enough, just two days later, Peter asked at breakfast, “Have you seen my stopwatch for cross country?”
We both remembered him carrying it to the car. He doesn’t like the sweat building up on his wrist, so he was holding the watch in one hand along with a water bottle and granola bar, while in the other hand he carried his sports bag. It was dangerous not wearing it all the time like the other kids. And now the predictable was happening.
We searched in every cubbyhole and around every flat-surface. On the way to the car I searched around the passenger door. A ballpoint pen lay there. But there was no sign of the watch near the pen or in the car. With my arms full, I didn’t pick up the pen.
As I drove Peter to school, we prayed together. And yes, we prayed about the watch because we didn’t know what else to do. We asked for St. Anthony’s help. But Peter is older now. And the complete trust he used to have, when he would say, “St. Anthony will help us,” was no longer there.
Peter pulled himself out of the car and barely managed a gloomy, “Bye.” It was a cold morning, made worse by the gloom. I just wanted to get home.
As I pulled into the driveway, four stray cats formed a line in the gravel. They were demanding food. I was thinking about them when I noticed a small glittering spot near where the ballpoint pen lay in the gravel.
I stopped the car and got out. Could it really be the face of the watch that glittered? I could hardly believe what I saw! I was sure I had looked in that very spot. And it was near where my tire should have passed when I backed the car out. But the unharmed watch was there, shaped like a smile.
Does St. Anthony really send down things from above? Or guide us to hidden things?
Well that’s how it seemed to happen. But I tend to think such little miracles are God’s way of saying, “Take back your unbelief!”
Such everyday experiences are an opportunity to be humbled and grateful. God is with us even in such minor concerns. If we remind ourselves of his constant presence, and are grateful for his daily gifts, and faithfully put our trust in him — then we are working on that most important of relationships.
Thank you, Lord, for whispering in my ear to say, “I am here — in this moment!”