Before I start on this weeks writing. I forgot to share another blessing we received on Stella's birthday. One of my sister-in-law's and her family live in Germany. Her husband is a Captain in the Army. Anyways...they skyped us on Stella's birthday and their oldest son just received his First Holy Communion. The day before Stella's birthday, Quin was going to serve for the first time as an altar boy. To make a long story short, he got too nervous and didn't do it. The next day on her birthday he prayed and asked Stella to help him and HE DID IT! He served his first Mass as altar boy, on St. Stella's birthday with her help. We were so blessed by that.
Regarding this week's post...
I wanted to touch base again on becoming like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I've mentioned how Stella has set such a realistic and wonderful example of this for me. Unfortunately, many children now-a-days do not resemble the "child-likeness" Jesus is talks about in Scripture. Many children have been stripped of such innocence at a young age because of what they have seen, heard, experience, or the lack of. My sister-in-law just experienced a perfect example. She and her family spent the night at a resort. She overheard a man tell two little girls, around the ages of 4 and 7, about the enthrallment of Ouija boards. These girls were listening profusely trying to wrap their tiny brains around what the man was informing them about. This is just one example of how some children do not have the chance to even be "children" in our culture.
When I look at what it means to be like a child, the kind our Lord talks about, one of the attributes that astounds me is how they are confident in the acts of God in the small. Because they are "newer" souls to the world, they find such pure fascination with the elements of the earth. I can think of an example involving my 6 year old niece, Isabel. Shortly after Stella died they were at some gathering after church. There were red balloons and she and her two sisters wanted to release three of them to Stella. The next day they were driving and my sister randomly stopped on the side of the road (not a common practice for her) and right there in a tree was a red balloon. Isabel immediately proclaimed, "Mom, Look! Stella sent a balloon back to us!"
Without a doubt she believes this and boldly professes it. I believe children can be better receptors to the Holy Spirit because of their purity and openness. I could easily think in my "adult" mind, "O, isn't that cute. She thinks her cousin sent one of the balloons back to her. That's so precious." But to become more childlike, I answer back to myself "Why not? Because it doesn't seem supernatural? Because it is in the natural? Isn't this God's world to begin with?" Since God works in the natural and there are no coincidences, then Stella did send it back. I don't think it is God who needs to change His ways of communicating to us. Rather I need to change my way of listening. I think of Elijah in I Kings 19:11-13. He was listening for God to speak. There came a big wind, an earthquake, and a fire. God was not in any of them. He was in a quiet whisper. Amongst so much noise and chaos, I must practice even more how to tune my spiritual ears to His whispers. It takes practice and trust. I also think of St. Francis de Sales. He once looked at a rose and said, "I hear you, stop shouting!" God's glory was revealed to him in the beauty of that single rose. I want to be able to do that.
I thought of three examples out of many I wanted to share about the whispers from heaven to me. I chose these three because I have pictures of them. My father-in-law is a master gardener. I helped him start this huge beautiful vegetable garden in his back yard. It has been a good learning experience for me. Anyways...I water the garden and occasionally go out and look at the progress. I noticed our zucchini plants have blossoms on them. I've seen them time and time again. One morning I was looking out the window at the garden and my eyes are naturally drawn to this pop of color from the blossoms on the zucchini plants. I was drawn to go look at them closely. God too had been shouting at me but I hadn't heard. I realized the blossoms are in the shape of STARS! I heard it loud and clear. Do you know what else? Ever since that morning I took the picture and went out to look at them, the blossoms have been closed up. He kept them open until I heard. His mercy is lovely. My God was telling me, my star, my saint, my Stella is BLOOMING in heaven! She is alive and thriving!
The second experience I want to share is... One day I prayed and asked Stella to show me on that day, specifically, her presence. A little while later, Phillip's oldest sister, Celestina, came in to my in-laws house and said "Hurry, come look outside on your car!" I looked outside and there was one of my in-laws white doves hanging out on our car. First of all, the bird wasn't suppose to be out of it's loft. Second of all, I nonchalantly asked my father-in-law if it was normal for one of the birds to hang out on any of the cars, because I myself had never seen one of them do that. He told me that wasn't "normal" behavior. It was there for a long time and even when I got close to take the picture it didn't get scared and fly away. The third thing that intrigued me was that it was a young bird, not an adult. In other words, it was a "child" dove. Now why would Stella have answered my prayer in the form of a white dove? We can think of the symbolism of doves - their purity, signs of hope, etc. Furthermore, more specifically to Stella, for All Saints Day this last October she asked if I would make her a Holy Spirit costume. We use a white dove to symbolize the Holy Spirit. So that is what she was on All Saints Day, a white dove, the Holy Spirit! And I can assure you this - among all the many, many dressed up children at the party, Stella was the only child dressed like the Holy Spirit. She was soooooo precious!
The third "whisper" I want to share is about a red pepper. I was prepping food for dinner and I was making stuffed peppers. Being part Italian, I use red peppers A LOT in cooking. It's one of our favorites. I have never had this happen to me before. When I cut one of the peppers in half there was another pepper growing inside of it in the shape of a heart. I couldn't believe it! I showed my sister right away since she was visiting. I love thinking how God new what store that pepper needed to be in when he grew it in some farm field months before. He new the exact time it would've needed to be ready because He knew what day, time and store I would purchase it in. And the fact I didn't even scratch the inner "heart" when I cut it in half is miraculous in itself! The question is, what was He showing me through the natural of the red pepper? It could be a reminder of His love for me. But as I have dwelt on it, I think He is telling me He holds my heart and all of it's desires in His. That my heart beats with every beat of His heart, and that His heart is my heart's life line. It was so tender to me.
As we grow up we can get lost in the cynicism of our culture. We lose the perspective of the miracles and love of our Creator in the world around us. I need continual help in trying to listen to my Lord's whispers and fully rejoice in the reality of them. I pray you experience God's whispers to you this week! Look and listen for them. He lavishes them on us.