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Rainbows and Roses
When I am feeling stressed or worried, I pretend that I am floating in a rainbow. Encircled by iridescent colors, I hover above fields of green, my arms outstretched, eyes closed. The rainbow image reminds me to just let go; to let God take care of all the problems; to stop trying to control the uncontrollable.
The me-in-the-rainbow is not usually an adult. Rather, it is me as a child of about ten or eleven, hair long and loose, the strands moving around me in the rainbow as if I lay in a pool of water. The rainbow-me is barefooted and wearing a blue nightgown that I remember Grandma gave me as one year for Christmas.
I have been spending a lot of time lately suspended in my mental rainbow as I’ve hit a rough patch in life.
I’ve also been praying a lot.
One of my favorite saints to pray to is Saint Theresa. I love the idea that if my prayers are going to be answered, Saint Theresa will send a shower of roses.
On our way home from a weekend trip, recently, I asked Joe if we could stop in Carey at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. I have always made treks to the Basilica whenever I’ve had an especially overwhelming event in my life.
In the basement of the church is a statue of Saint Theresa. When I was in pharmacy school, I externed at the independent drugstore in Carey. I used to leave home early in the mornings just so I could sit in the shadowy basement in front of Saint Theresa.
On this last trip to the Basilica, I again knelt before the beloved saint and poured out my heart. Then I wrote my prayer on a tiny slip of paper and placed it in a basket with hundreds of other petitions—all of us hoping to receive a rose to let us know our prayers had received affirmation.
On my dark journey these past few months, I’ve been floating in rainbows and searching for roses. But that’s not all I’ve been doing. I’ve also been reading.
The book that has helped me find direction on this unwanted voyage is called, “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul,” by John and Stasi Eldredge.
One passage that had a particularly strong effect on me dealt with being “Hemmed In.”
“Why did God curse Eve with loneliness and heartache, an emptiness that nothing would be able to fill? Wasn’t her life going to be hard enough out there in the world, banished from the Garden that was her true home, her only home, never able to return? It seems unkind. Cruel, even.
He did it to save her. For as we all know personally, something in Eve’s heart shifted at the Fall. Something sent its roots down deep into her soul—and ours—that mistrust of God’s heart, that resolution to find life on our own terms. So God has to thwart her. In love, he has to block her attempts until, wounded and aching, she turns to him and him alone for her rescue.
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
She will look for them but not find them. (Hos. 2:6-7)
Jesus has to thwart us too—thwart our self-redemptive plans, our controlling and our hiding, thwart the ways we are seeking to fill the ache within us.”
The authors continue: “And so you will see the gentle, firm hand of God in a woman’s life hemming her in. He’ll make what once was a great job miserable, if it was in her career that she found shelter. He’ll bring hardship into her marriage, even to the breaking point, if it was in marriage she sought salvation. Wherever it is we have sought life apart from him, he disrupts our plans, our “way of life” which is not life at all.” (pages 96-97)
God has definitely been “hemming me in.”
The Eldredges explain that after God hems a woman in, however, he begins to “woo” her to him.
“God comes to us and asks, ‘Will you let me come for you?’ Not only does he thwart, but at the same time he calls to us…
Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
And speak tenderly to her. (Hos. 2:14) (page 99)
The authors write that a woman needs to ask God to show his personal love for her, to say, “Do you see me? Am I captivating? Do I have a beauty all my own?” (page 108)
Furthermore, they say it is good to ask, “Jesus, how are you romancing me now?” (page 118)
So I decided to ask God to send me my own personal love letter—something intimate that would have special meaning only to me.
Joe and I were leaving an appointment in Dublin on the day I asked God to “romance” me. The appointment ran late and as we stepped into the parking lot, it was raining. But in the brilliantly blue sky, the sun was still peeking out. Sun and rain?
I turned then and there in front of me stretching clear across the heavens was a perfectly arched rainbow. I gasped out loud.
God really had to make a point to me. There was not one rainbow, but two. A twin mirrored the main rainbow, slightly dimmer, but still discernible.
There in the rain, my happiness poured forth and Joe and I hugged and kissed even as raindrops fell on our heads. It was one of the most romantic moments in my life.
Saint Theresa has also gone out of her way to show me she is here for me.
The day after I left my prayers at the Basilica, I went into my closet looking for something to wear. I pulled out a shirt I had not worn in a long time and decided it needed a day of use. Only when I yanked it over my head and was brushing my hair in front of the mirror did I notice that the shirt was covered in roses. I began to weep.
Saint Theresa did not stop there. I have been seeing roses everywhere for the past two weeks—on billboards, in gardens, on clothing. I’ve heard about roses in songs on the radio and in news interviews.
I have truly been showered with roses.
Right now when life doesn’t seem so lovely, I am reminded that God’s beauty permeates the ugliness.
I am surrounded by God’s love in the form of rainbows and roses.