I met with my spiritual director in a different room this month. It wasn’t what was planned, but since I’ve gotten more accustomed to things not being quite as I expect life-wise, I settled in and got comfy. It was a really pretty room, with a cozy mustard-colored couch, lots of fun throw-pillows, and a piece of art across the room that kept drawing my eye.
It was a print of a child drinking water from a hose. The piece was beautiful and intimate, and the fact is that water symbols have popped up so often for me lately that I knew I was supposed to pay attention. Dew, anchors, rain, sailboats, lighthouses, even floaties and paddleboards are all over everything I’ve read, listened to, or written over the last year, and the theme has not escaped my notice as I’ve lived out here in the deep water, spiritually speaking. As I caught up with my spiritual director about the events of the last month, my attention kept shifting. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one.
At a certain point, Deb stopped mid-sentence and told me there was a rainbow behind me on the wall. She had seen it and noticed it and as she listened to God for me, which is a lot of what spiritual direction is all about, Deb felt strongly like she should say something about the rainbow behind me on the wall. I’m so glad she did. Of course, I was all in.
I wrenched around to see it but couldn’t find its source, no prism hanging in the window or any other reflective surface in the room so far as I could see. But there it was the whole time as I sat pouring out my guts on the cute mustard-colored sofa, a rainbow just to the left of my face. And though we were deep in discussion at that point and I like to stay focused during our time together, the thought flooded in: rainbows come after the rain.
It’s been rainy with me for a long time. The particular promise of a rainbow filled my heart with a lightness I’d not felt in a while, and it has stayed with me ever since. A rainbow means the end of the storm, doesn’t it? Maybe so, and amen and amen and amen.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a place we didn’t plan to be, and the best thing we can do then is to take a look around. A new perspective will often surprise us with new wisdom, or beauty we couldn’t have found any other way. As I looked at the child drinking water from the hose, I saw myself, thirsty and taking it all in like I always do. And of course, it didn’t escape my notice that in the abstract lines of the water, the artist had hidden the very face of Jesus. Do you see it? He’s been there the whole time.
God has led me on this winding path now for a long, long time, and sometimes it has seemed so terribly long that I couldn’t bear it, yet through it all, He’s helped me to learn dependence on Him alone. He’s my source and my help. He’s water on the hottest day and He’s good and He’s helping. And on days like today I see it clear as the clearest pool of water: He sends friends to help me see the rainbows I would never have noticed on my own.
If you’ve never considered spiritual direction, please consider giving yourself this gift. The right person can listen to God for you and help you see rainbows you might miss otherwise. Ask your local retreat house or church community for suggestions, and if you live anywhere near me, ask me for a recommendation. ~Kerry
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