Persons, places and things: paying more attention to God’s presence


By Barb Arland-Fye

Opening my spiritual journal, I reflect on three questions: When did I experience God’s presence or absence that day? When was I present or absent to God? What act of kindness, love or service did I provide to someone?


Some nights, when I’m especially sleepy, the answers take a while to percolate. Even so, the exercise enhances awareness of God acting in my life, or at least causes me to pay more attention. A few examples come to mind:

Last week I visited a nursing home with other members of the Altar and Rosary Society of my parish to help with bingo. Encouraged to mingle with the bingo players, I sat down at a table next to a woman named Myra who uses a wheel chair. She did not have lucky bingo cards and demonstrated far more patience than I could have mustered at having such lousy cards.


In conversing with Myra, I learned that she had been at the nursing home for about a year undergoing rehabilitation. Once she could get back on her feet, literally, she would return to the home she shares with her husband. We talked about our families and I showed her the boot on my broken right leg which seemed to be taking forever to heal. She commiserated with me, but did not complain about her own mobility issues.

Myra mentioned that she loves it when the nursing home staff takes her and other residents outside in the fresh air. It must have been hard not being able to go outside during the harsh winter, I said. No, she responded. She concentrated on reading good books and engaging in other activities that make her happy.

On the same day of our visit Myra had walked eight steps, she told me with the warmest smile. As I left the nursing home, clomping along in my boot, I experienced a gentle reminder from God about gratitude.

The next day, I had a voice mail message from a program my son Colin participates in with other adults with special needs. It seems he’d gotten upset and needed to go back to his apartment. The program supervisor wanted to set up a meeting to discuss the situation, a meeting that had to happen before he could return.

My heart sank into the pit of my stomach. Would he be dismissed from the program? This was not the first time we had to schedule a meeting. A friend at church once reminded me that I am not in control of my son’s behavior and that I should let God handle it. So I prayed. I didn’t try to bargain with God as I have in the past. I simply asked God to take over.

The meeting took place, and although I was unable to attend, I learned that the outcome was encouraging. Colin would be able to remain in the program and the staff would offer him a couple of additional “help lines” to cope with his stressors. I knew that God had guided that meeting.

Finally, my slow-healing tibia has required additional measures that my doctor recommended to benefit the healing process. Last month, he detected no change in the X-rays, a big disappointment. But this month, the X-rays showed signs of healing!

So, the boot can go into the closet unless I’m in pain. It feels like winning a half-marathon.

The doctor still doesn’t want me to walk for exercise until more healing occurs. I asked him if I could walk for even 10 minutes. He said, sure, walk to Whitey’s (ice cream parlor), get a milk shake and drink it!

God answers prayers in ways we don’t always expect or desire. I had asked God for a sign of hope and received one, something to reflect on in my spiritual journal.

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