Life as an obelisk


By Judith Costello

The gate to the duck pen is falling off. I tried to pound the sagging board, but I pounded my finger instead.

We hired the plumber to unclog our bathtub drain. Pushing the coil down there caused the rusty pipes to burst.  Now we have no bathtub and we’ll have to do without it, until finances are better.

I wrote a check to the vet for $200 more than we really had to spend. After we brought the dog home, the neighbor called to say she had an herbal remedy that probably would have cured the problem for only $10.

Can you hear me sigh? Sometimes life seems to be a series of challenges. I remember someone once saying that troubles come in threes. But that sounds like superstition. Besides, I’m trying to get a spiritual perspective on all this!


I thought I’d better pray and ask for help. Perhaps I could get a higher/truer perspective by asking God to give me a vision of how to view life when things seem to be falling apart.

An angel nudged me to look at the dark clouds that gather on the horizon during this fall season. Here in the “big sky country” of New Mexico, you can see the clouds coming from miles away. And out of the clouds you will often see rays of light breaking through.

I asked my Sunday school class to watch the clouds everyday and use it as a time to say, “Thank you Lord.” They reported seeing angels and puffy animals and even John Wayne in the clouds!

As my spirit rises to the clouds, I look down to laugh at the kittens scurrying across the yard. They run to the barn before the storm hits and the children are running after them.

I decided it’s good to challenge assumptions. Do troubles really come without blessings? Doubtful.  I came across this photo of the Washington Monument that Peter, age 13, took by laying on the ground and looking up. And again an angel nudged me.

I think our troubles and our joy are like two sides of an obelisk.  We don’t really have to accept the idea that our loves teeter-totter between good and bad. Around the corner from every “bad” event, God shows us a wall of strength and grace. And alongside every “good” event, God reminds us there are challenges. Pride often lurks on that other wall.

Around the corner from the difficulties of busted pipes, a sagging fence and the vet bill, we have been blessed with so much. We found good homes for all the kittens that were born here this summer. And Brigit, age 10, is thrilled that she’s now strong enough to carry the cross as an altar server at Mass. And the town offered a free “Spay and Neuter Clinic” for all our rescued cats. And our falling down fence was easily fixed by piling up new dirt at the base.

Two sides of the same structure. The other two sides that we don’t see are God’s angels and the saints, supporting the structure of our lives.

This obelisk tapers toward heaven and ends in a pyramid shape. It reminds me of the Trinity. God is the “capstone” as well as the cornerstone/foundation. All we need to do is keep on building our lives always remembering there are several sides. Prayer helps change the perspective and then the other wall comes into view.

(Judith Costello is a freelance writer who grew up in Davenport and now lives in rural New Mexico. Her Web site is

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