The hostess politely inquired, “Would you like to dine inside the restaurant or out on the patio?” I hesitated because I dislike sitting in full sun. As if reading my mind, the hostess quickly put my fears to rest. “Most of the patio is in shade.”
I confirmed my preference with a smile. “I’d love a table in the shade.”
A tall pergola shaded one half of the patio and most of the other half of the remaining area enjoyed the shade of a sapling tree. Placing a glass of water on the table, the hostess promised that a waiter would take my order after I had a chance to look at the menu.
While waiting for my order to be filled, I glanced around. Flowerboxes placed on the top of the patio walls were full of flowers and herbs. Healthy vining plants cascaded their tendrils down and swayed in a gentle breeze.
I overheard one woman at a nearby table telling her companion, “I miss Phillip so much. Mornings are especially hard, but today something happened that made me feel better. From the kitchen window I saw a beautiful cardinal perched in the tree Phillip had planted before his illness. Seeing it gave me a feeling of peace. I felt like Phillip was there checking on me.”
The other woman gushed, “That is so beautiful! I truly believe it was Phillip returning for a visit and to console you.” Both dabbed their eyes with Kleenex.
Their conversation reminded me of an article I’d recently read about what it means if you often see repeated numbers on your digital clock. The article claimed it meant someone in heaven is watching over you. That, although we can’t communicate with our loved ones in heaven, God sends angels to guide us.
That evening I mentioned the overheard restaurant conversation to my daughter, Tammie, and questioned, “When you see a cardinal do you feel like it’s Daddy paying you a visit?”
Tammie pondered my question before offering, “I know many people believe that seeing a cardinal means their loved one is checking on them, so that makes me think of Daddy, but I don’t believe he is physically present.”
Pressing on, I questioned, “How about if every time you looked at a digital clock, you saw repeated numbers? Would that make you feel like angels were trying to send you a message?”
Frowning, my daughter slowly answered, “No. Not really.”
Nodding in agreement, I explained, “Cardinals and numbers don’t do it for me, but I do believe that God allows us a way to feel close to our deceased loved ones. He grants us memories that are unique to the individual. These memories are like moments of grace.”
My daughter questioned, “Would you consider the way the smell of roses makes me feel a moment of grace? That scent instantly makes me think of Grammie.”
“Yes.” I exclaimed, “What makes that a moment of grace is your remembering to say a prayer for Grammie. One moment of grace for me is the memory of her frustration because her miraculous medal kept sliding behind her neck when she laid down. In the mornings when I find my medal hanging down my back, I remember her and say a short prayer.”
Looking delighted, Tammie exclaimed, “I see what you mean. Moments of grace are times something in our daily lives triggers a loving memory. When I see a dark-haired man wearing a plaid, western-cut shirt, I always think of Daddy.”
Nodding, I pointed out, “My brother Casper’s hobby for over thirty years was making wine, so having a glass of wine with a meal always makes me think of Casper. My brother Billy was a farmer. Seeing cows pasturing in fields along the road often makes me think of him.”
“What makes these memories moments of grace,” my daughter concluded,
“is that they are happy memories, allowing us to enter a special dimension where the people we love are still alive, but merely away on a short trip.”