AS my mother was getting to be a senior citizen, she began driving less and less, and worrying about weather conditions before getting behind the wheel of her car.
Nevertheless, every month, she and a few friends, would pick a restaurant, and take turns driving for a "ladies night out". One spring day, with great temperatures, and blue skies, they headed out to the next town, about ten miles away, in mom's beautiful old Buick. They usually left early enough to take their time, and still get home before dark. On this day, I happened to be at her house before she left, and told her I'd wait for her to return before going home.
About two hours later, a huge thunderstorm rolled in from the direction where they had gone to eat. It was very alarming to me, as the visibility was reduced to nearly zero, from the intense rain. I was thinking that I should call the restaurant, and tell her to wait there for me to come and pick them all up. Then, I was thinking that if she were still there, she would most certainly be calling me, so I should just wait. Or, horror of horrors, she was already on the road and scared out of her mind. She would be rear-ended driving too slow, or trying to pull off the highway. All sorts of scenarios filled my mind. And although I'd been a lapsed Catholic for 20 years, I spontaneously began praying out loud.
I said, "Oh God, this is decision time, please, please tell me what to do...stay here, go after her, what?" I was rattling off things like "Oh Lord, for her sake, tell me what to do to help her. I'm afraid for her." And of course, not used to begging like this, I asked for an immediate sign. I said, "Lord, if she's okay, please give me a sign. If she's okay, and she's not afraid, show me a rainbow right now!"
See, I was pacing the kitchen, and wandering in and out the door to a screened in deck. But, I no sooner spit out the words, when the largest rainbow I had ever seen, appeared in the Eastern sky. Still quite distraught, I looked around and couldn't even see the sun shining anywhere. It was nothing but storm clouds and rain. And one big, beautifully full rainbow.
Well, taken aback for only a moment, I thought it could be a freak coincidence. A very freak coincidence. So I said, "Well, are you SURE? She's NOT afraid?" (Very shameful of me) But, the Lord said, "OF COURSE, I'M SURE"- and out popped another full rainbow directly above the other.
The whole Eastern sky was nothing but colors streaking across dark sky all around me. Intense relief, knowing that He had taken care of her, replaced the feeling of embarrassment at having questioned God like that. So I just strolled into the living room, said a humble prayer of thanks, and wondered how this was all going to play out.
About fifteen minutes later, the rain had stopped, and in walked my mother, calm as could be. "How was dinner?" I inquired. She takes off her jacket, "Oh, we had a nice time, and the food was pretty good too." I said, "I was really worried about you, what with the storm and all." She said, "What storm?" Then I relayed the panic I had been in, because of the horrific thunderstorm, and the fervent prayer for her, and the miraculous answer that she was completely safe.
Well, needless to say, she was awestruck. She said that the sky was blue before, during, and after their dinner. That it was clear all the way home. That not ONE drop of rain had fallen on her vehicle. She and the girls were even wondering how the roads got all wet, on such a sunny day. I thought then that the Lord must love her very, very much.
Well, this incident certainly brought me closer to God, and I felt very privileged to have been blessed by His mercy. But it did not compel me then, to return to the Sacraments, and the Catholic faith. How I came home to the church, and was graced with another miracle, is another story. I think I'll call it "St. Augustine Online".
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