A few weeks ago I had another amazing experience.
I had spent a couple of nights sitting up with my beloved Miss Ellie the Cat, who, at 23 years old, is on borrowed time. She was having one of her bad spells, unable to keep down even water. Her discomfort made me wonder about intervening, about helping her cross that Rainbow Bridge. Surely she was suffering way more than she needed to.
Ellie, though, has let me know in no uncertain terms that she is NOT ready to leave this life. When she’s ready, I’ll help her if she wants help; but not until she tells me so. And so I sat up with her all night, just dozing, because she seemed comforted by my presence.
My choice of reading and late-night television echoed my mood: North of Here, a novel by Laurel Saville. Such troubled people, such damaged people; so much loss. A documentary by Anderson Cooper about his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. Such troubled and damaged people; so much loss. The news: a building collapse in Kenya, a “mistaken” bombing of a children’s hospital in the Middle East. So much loss.
The next afternoon I went to the grocery. We were out of cat food, and Ellie by some miracle was up and eating again. That cat has used up about 17 lives so far, I swear.
A big storm was coming in, but Ellie was hungry, so I decided to try to get to the grocery and back before it hit.
The sky was absolutely amazing! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such sharply defined cloud formations. Despite my worry, I stopped halfway up the hill to look and try to get a couple of photos. But as I started on my way again, I noticed the “Get gas NOW!” light was on. Oh dear. On this particular car, that light comes on at the very last minute before the gas is GONE. Rats. I’d need to stop before heading for the store.
But at the top of the hill, distracted by the beauty around and above me, I turned toward the grocery instead of the gas station. Oh no…. The last thing I wanted was to run out of gas in the pouring rain.
So I “checked in,” to see if my intuition had anything to say. “All’s well,” I heard. So despite some misgivings, I decided to believe what I felt—there was plenty of gas.
As I pulled into the parking lot, the storm was all around. Brilliant lightning, incredible clouds, and clearly lots of rain to the north, but no rain here. So I raced into the store, got the cat food, got back to the car—and a few rays of sun came out under the clouds. So unexpected, and so beautiful.
I knew there would be a rainbow. Sure enough, there it was. I would have missed it altogether if I had gotten gasoline first (the gas station building would have been in the way), and if I hadn’t known to turn and look for it.
Couldn’t help myself: I hollered at a couple of women passing in the parking lot. “Hey! Look at the rainbow!” They both looked and smiled—they would have missed it if I hadn’t called their attention to it. One went on to her car after a brief conversation; the nearer one stood and told me the story of Noah and how he believed what God said and so he and his family were saved while everyone else perished.
So I think the lesson of today is that indeed, as Julian of Norwich wrote almost exactly 600 years ago, “All shall be well; all shall be well. All manner of thing shall be well.” Believe in God’s promise, and always—always!—look for the beauty even in the midst of the storm.
The heavens opened just as I reached my front door….