by Joanie Butman
While visiting my mom last weekend, we were walking in the garden when one of the men who works in the building approached. He opened with, “I don’t know why I feel compelled to share this with you, but you’re not going to believe what just happened.” He described how the eucharistic minister who comes on Sundays to celebrate communion with the residents declined his request to partake because, unfortunately, she did not have enough of the host. Following the service though, she sought him out to serve him the lone remainder. Puzzled, she explained she’s never had any leftover before. She must not be Italian. I was always taught to make or bring enough for double the amount of people you expect – especially when it comes to spiritual food!! No one goes hungry on my watch!!
Regardless, Stanley disclosed that he’s been going through some rough times and had been calling out to the Lord. He believed this mini-miracle of the loaves and fishes was God’s reply. I concurred. He kept repeating in awe, “You may think I’m imagining it, but I truly believe this was a sign.” I assured him I definitely did not think he had an overactive imagination. I’ve been in that position before – bubbling over with excitement due to a hug from Heaven and wanting to share the experience with someone. I’ve also experienced my share of eye-rolling, ‘she-needs-to-be-committed’ reactions.
Why Stanley chose us to share his delight is a mystery, but I was honored. Smiling, he left with a skip in his step, still shaking his head at the wonder of a direct communique with the Divine. Now, you might be thinking both of us delusional at this point, but sometimes you just know what you know. This was one of those times. Who knows? Maybe I (and consequently you) needed to be reminded of God’s tenderness as well.
There is no paucity when it comes to God, though there are those who try to confine Him to neat little boxes, limiting His power and authority in their daily life. Today is Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the day we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. I can’t even wrap my head around the concept of the Holy Ghost (as He was scarily called in my youth) never mind trying to confine Him. He must be small though because He could fit between two dancers according to the nuns! I do know that when God wants to communicate with us, He will accomplish it with or without our cooperation. I’ve learned to recognize the telltale feeling that comes over me when I experience something similar to Stanley’s Sunday morning miracle. That’s the Holy Spirit. It’s unmistakable, and it permeated the garden last weekend.
A ‘small’ miracle is an oxymoron. Whether God chose to feed 5,000 as is told in the Gospels or just the one extra longing for His presence last weekend doesn’t matter. What does matter is that God shows up – not always in the way we expect or want but always in the way we need. Stanley’s circumstances didn’t change, but his attitude certainly did.
The thing about miracles is that they almost always occur in times of scarcity. God meets us in our despair – when we are suffering, tired, weak, hungry, lonely, discouraged, defeated, broken-hearted, forgotten, destitute. Sometimes it takes losing everything to realize He is all you need. I don’t know what hardships Stanley is facing, but realizing he wasn’t alone in his struggle is what he desperately needed last Sunday.
Life is hard. We’re all dealing with something. I believe we all need a reminder that we don’t need to go through it alone. However, God is too polite to go where He isn’t invited. I can tell you from experience, choosing to welcome God into your life always makes the burdens lighter and the joys greater.