By Christine Lenninger
The yellow rose has become a symbol of God’s presence to me through the Holy Spirit, and indeed, I recognize and am grateful that he has brought to me living examples of the attributes of the yellow rose: happiness, optimism, wisdom, love and beauty!
Through the “Called and Gifted” experience I have been blessed with both happiness and optimism, and the love and beauty of others, as well as wisdom on my path back to our Lord and the sacraments.
Where do I begin? How do I put into words the emptiness, loneliness and desolation following my 45 years without the sacraments of reconciliation and holy Eucharist? Just as the color yellow captures one’s attention more than any other color, the Holy Spirit came into my life and placed my hand on the phone so that I would call Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf. How do I know it was the Holy Spirit who guided me? I didn’t receive an answering machine message, but instead heard the real voice of Father Tim Sheedy, who was pastor at the time. This was the beginning of my journey home!
Signs of God’s presence are always available; we just need the grace to identify his care! At times, we ask for signs when we feel lost. Unbeknownst to my son, the roses that he planted for me following his father’s death would eventually come to remind me of God’s presence in my life as I began to use my discerned gifts!
God has ways of wonder to gain our attention, doesn’t he? What was to follow was yet another intervention by the Holy Spirit. I was asked to join a prayer group for Carol Parr, who had recently been diagnosed with lymphoma. Carol is a genuine mentor for the gifts of happiness, optimism, wisdom, love and beauty. Once again, a reminder of my special attachment to the yellow rose! Whoever said that the Holy Spirit lacks creativity? God placed me with this group of people because he saw that I would need them. Following a thyroid surgery, I was unable to speak. My voice was limited to a mere whisper. God intervenes; only this time, I was to be on the receiving end of prayer.
The group prayed over me and leading this prayer was a beautiful lady, a “Called and Gifted” participant from Clinton who discerned the gift of healing. Three days later at a doctor’s appointment, my physician said, “This is what I’ve been waiting to see!” Within days of our prayer group meeting, my whisper became a small “squeak!” Oh, my, prayers were being answered!
Our Lord presented another sign. Carol’s sister gave each of us a prayer card containing a yellow rose petal and printed with the words: half-blown blossoms represent his passion, and a full-blown flower shows forth the glory of his triumph. Our Lord had given to me yet another sign of his love. I had suffered with him in his passion, and I was feeling the glory of his triumph.
Waiting to be discharged from the hospital following my thyroid surgery, I received a dozen yellow roses. Yes, they were truly lovely; however, they also were carrying a sign much deeper than I could ever imagine. This is a sign of God’s presence within that beauty — once again, a symbol of his generous love for me.
Yellow roses from my son’s rose bush are visible at our prayer meetings as I continue to use my identified gift of intercessory prayer. Only God in his infinite wisdom and timing could have woven this beautifully made tapestry of experiences, people and their gifts. Thank you, Lord, for leading me through “Called and Gifted,” a program of hope — and a path for my journey home.
(For information about beginning a Called and Gifted program in your parish, please contact Nikki Gartner at jngartner@ aol.com or call (563) 370-3360.)