God can take us by surprise as we journey along with life’s many challenges. Years ago I was on a weekend retreat at La Verna House of Spirituality run by the Franciscan Fathers. At that time I was feeling very negative and confused wondering where the retreat would take me. It was a fine but windy day that seemed to contribute to the agitation I felt within me. During my reflection time I walked along the footpath outside the fence trying to find answers to the questions that filled my mind. From a distance I noticed an elderly woman walking towards the direction where I was. My feet seemed as if they were being dragged as I walked until we reached each other. We exchanged greetings and I spontaneously introduced myself. In our conversation I told her the reason of my being in that place, that I was on retreat in preparation for my renewal of vows. She was so kind and gentle in making me feel so at home with her. She said she would offer a decade of rosary for my intentions for which I graciously thanked her. Suddenly my eyes were welling up with tears. I was thirsting for something I wasn’t sure of. I walked down the path with her, attentively listening to her stories. She was very positive about priests and nuns. I understood she had a high regard for religious people and for what they do.
The time I spent with her made me reflect about my life. In that instant I felt God’s love enfolding me. As we bade each other goodbye I felt differently. My negative emotions had turned into a lightness of heart and deep joy. That encounter with someone I didn’t even know left a deep impression upon me. I believed God revealed Himself in a very ordinary way through an ordinary person. It was a powerful experience of His presence. God gave me the assurance that He is near, constantly walking with us and carries us during difficult times of our life. I was longing for God and that revelation was a moment of grace. God communicated His love through an unknown person.
Sometimes God uses people and events to help us understand our experiences leading up to the realization that He is the answer to our quest for meaning and true happiness is found in Him alone. At the end of the retreat I felt differently. The discouragement I had nurtured had turned into reassurance and consolation. I thanked God for that unexpected meeting. He made it possible for me to see the light through a stranger.
Sr Yolanda Nava FDZ