The rain pounded the windshield of my car as I tugged on the wiper controls, hoping to make my already whizzing windshield wipers go faster. My hands gripped the wheel as tight as I could and I peered out the window hoping to steer my car and my children to a safe spot to wait out the storm.
We had left a friend's house only a short while before, noting the dark clouds in the sky, but not expecting that Mother Nature would unleash such a severe thunderstorm within a few short minutes. I finally settled the car into a parking spot when the wind picked up dramatically, hail started to pound the roof and the branches of the tree above us began to violently thrash about.
"Let's go to St. John's..." whispered my daughter from the backseat. St. John's was the parish which housed our homeschool co-op. I knew it was only about a mile away, but I secretly doubted that its doors would be open in the middle of a random Wednesday afternoon. Still, I knew we weren't safe where we were and her suggestion seemed to be worth a shot.
"Pray to St. Michael", I instructed the children as we slowly made our way down the road and into the church's vacant parking lot. I pulled up in front of the church and my son dashed out to try the doors. He pulled on the first door - it was locked. "Please Lord", I silently prayed, "let us find shelter in your house..." The second door swung open. I shooed my daughter out of the car and told them to wait for me inside while I parked. She started sobbing. "Mommy, I'm afraid..." "No worries" was my trying-to-sound casual reply - "you are safe in Jesus' house."
The 10 second sprint from the parking lot into the church left me soaked from head to toe. The children and I entered the dark, silent church, breathing deeply the familiar smell of faded incense, and made our way to the front pew. We sat in silence in front of the tabernacle, the red light assuring us of the real presence of the Lord. My daughter stopped crying and my son suggested we pray a rosary.
As we sat praying, the pounding rain slowly began to cease. The pause in what had been an outrageously busy few weeks gave me a chance to reflect.
- How great is God our Father who provides shelter in all the storms of our life!
- How humble is our Lord Jesus, who waits patiently for us and welcomes us with love and unfathomable peace whenever we run to him, no matter how long it has been.
- How wise is the Holy Spirit, who whispers words of wisdom into the hearts of our children, and makes our own "wiser" hearts docile enough to hear them.
- How wonderful are the Lord's faithful servants who permit our churches to be unlocked, when the more "practical" minded would urge them shut them tight and open them only when necessary.
- Finally, how powerful are the lessons of the Lord, which come in the most unexpected ways. My children and I learned more about God's faithfulness and the shelter his Church provides in this short experience than through all the "religion lessons" of our school year.
We left the church only 40 minutes later, and drove home in a light drizzle. Within a few minutes of arriving at home, the sun began to shine brightly. For those who love the Lord, there is always grace during the struggle, a rainbow following the storm, and resurrection after death.
To God be the glory!