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(wc 1015)

Every once in a while I receive a direct message from the Universal Message Service that I call God.  Over the years I have learned that it is wise to listen. and it is even wiser to respond with a “yes.”

There is something frustrating about those messages – sometimes.  I get annoyed with the Message Service when it does not tell me why I should take the hint and do as suggested.  Keep in mind, the message is always just a suggestion. I can take it or not.  I used to try bargaining.  “OK.  I’ll do it, but only if You tell me why You want me to do it.”  If you are a new member of this Message Service, take it from me:  You will never be told beforehand. Sometimes the reason never comes, and you are left to wonder why on earth you drove six miles out of your way to reach your destination; why you spoke to that complete stranger; why you called someone – friend or acquaintance – you had not spoken to in months or years.

But sometimes you learn the reason. In those times I discover that the detour saved me a few hours sitting in a traffic jam, or that stranger needed what I said, or that telephone call came just in time for both me and my friend.

This past few weeks I received two messages.  One I ignored, rationalizing my negative answer, and the consequence is that I missed out on both the opportunity to say “Good-bye,” and to see a friend that I had not seen in many years.  The other I said yes to and was rewarded in an unexpected way.  Both of these results have happened to me before, and they were in very similar circumstances.  You can read about those two previous events in this post from November 18, 2010.  You will see after reading that post, that this one is a confession.  I’ve done it – rather, not done it – again.  I call it a recycled sin of omission.  Apparently I need the brickbat over the head again.

Driving back home from my birthday trip to the Outer Banks in April, we stayed in Durham overnight with friends.  While there I felt very clearly that I needed to try to get in touch with Christine, because although she lives in California, her parents live in Pittsboro, NC, very close to the Durham area.  I felt I should stop in on Christine’s parents, Jack and Marilyn, but didn’t know their exact address.  I even said it aloud, and Ashley heard me.  “I should hunt down Christine’s parents.  They live near here, and I know Jack has not been very well recently.  I might not get another chance.”  Feeling tired, and wanting to get home, my answer was “No.”

As it turns out, I will not have another chance, because I did not follow through on the message.  Jack died last week.  I missed the opportunity to visit with Marilyn and Jack and share with them how much they have meant to me and my family over the almost 50 years of our friendship.  As in the earlier post, this experience is eerily reminiscent of my missed opportunity with Paul.

I called Christine as soon as I heard about Jack, and wondered when she would be flying back to California – perhaps if not right away, I could drive out to see her and her Mom.  Turns out she was leaving that afternoon.  But, I did receive a blessing.  Christine will be coming back out here in July.  Marilyn will be having eye surgery, and Christine will be staying with her for about three weeks.  We made plans to meet then.  I am looking forward to seeing both her and Marilyn.  At least then I can share some of my best memories of their family, and we can laugh and recall even more, and best of all, make some new ones.

The other event happened today.  When I got out of bed this morning, I received the message to “drop in on Gail, and invite her out to lunch.”  Gail is my hand therapist, and we developed a friendship over the last three years.  While I am no longer under her care, I happened to think that today might be a good day to drop in on her at work and see if she wanted to have lunch with me.  On my way out the door, I remembered that I had several “jewelry-type” badge holders.  They were left-overs from having to wear a badge when I was an employee at Baptist Hospital in Knoxville.  I no longer needed them, and on one occasion more than a year ago, I had told Gail that I would bring those to her.  She could have them if she wanted them.  I promptly forgot – and so did she.  This morning I remembered it, so I went to the spot where I last remember seeing them, and Lo and behold! – they were still there, so I untangled them and took them with me.

When she saw me (it has been about three months since I last saw her), she broke out into a big grin, and when I handed her the badge-necklaces, she looked astonished and said, “How did you know that I have been wanting one of these?” I reminded her that a long time ago I had told her that I had them after she told me she was looking for one.  Her smile made my day, and she also was very happy to go out to lunch with me.  We shared a wonderful hour catching up on each other’s families as well as our own lives.  I was so richly rewarded for that simple “Yes,” with which I responded to the Universal Message Service.

Maybe I’ve really learned this time.  I certainly hope so.  I want to take advantage of every opportunity I am given to say “Good-bye” and “Hello.”  I know I will not always get another chance.  I pray that I have at last learned this lesson well, and enough. . .

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