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One simple thing I’ve learned since I’ve been Catholic is that when I’m not living in the present moment and not opening my heart to the special graces God offers me, I seldom see them. On the other hand, when I anticipate and look for them, I frequently experience what I once called coincidences but have since learned to call “God moments”. Today was one of those days when I felt His presence because I was ready for it. I want to share it with you.

To begin, my resolution after prayer this morning was to try to be a “light” for someone I would encounter today and help draw them closer to Christ. I didn’t know how I would do that but I prayed I would seize the moment if I had the opportunity. The problem was I didn’t plan on leaving the house except for attending a Marriage Encounter meeting tonight.

I discovered mid-afternoon that I needed a head of cauliflower for a recipe I was preparing for dinner. I drove to my favorite grocery store only to find they were sold out of cauliflower. Standing in the checkout line with a few other items I needed, I thought it was an inconvenience to have to go to the other grocery store just to buy a head of cauliflower. I consciously thought, “But, if that’s what God needs me to do, then that’s what I’ll do.” And, I thanked him for it.

The produce section of the second store is just inside the front door so I grabbed one of only four heads of cauliflower they had (and wondered what was up with a run on cauliflower in late January!) and headed for the checkout. But, then I thought of one other item I wanted so I dropped back a couple aisles to get that. On the way, I ran into a friend from our parish and we chatted for a moment. On the way back to the checkout I ran into another friend from church and we chatted for another moment. And, then, as we were finishing our conversation another friend from church, along with his daughter, walked down that same aisle and greeted me. Actually, he and I were more like acquaintances than friends because we’d only met and talked to each other a few times over a weekend last September.

Oddly enough, about a week ago, this gentleman had been on my mind for two or three days straight and I wasn’t sure why. During our encounter last September we had exchanged phone numbers so I texted him this message: “My friend, Jerry Robinson here. We met last September on your Welcome weekend. I hope this finds you well. For some reason that God may only know, you’ve been on my mind the last few days. So I thought I’d reach out to you and see how you’re doing and ask if there’s anything for which I can pray for you. If there is please let me know and I’ll include your intentions in my prayers. God bless you.” I hadn’t thought about him since, and he didn’t reply to my text.

So today, we greeted each other warmly and, a little sheepishly, he acknowledged receiving my text and apologized for not responding. I introduced myself to his daughter and I learned that she will be graduating from high school this spring and is discerning which college to attend. Her dad mentioned they were doing the financial aid thing and looking into scholarship opportunities and I commiserated with him about that process and my familiarity with it having put four of my own daughters through college.

I sensed he was perhaps a little stressed about his oldest child (and a daughter, at that!) heading off to college. I mentioned how it’s not easy when your first born flies from the nest and he readily agreed with me. I asked the daughter about which colleges she was considering and we talked about that for a moment. Then, needing to wrap the conversation up, I mentioned to her that I hoped she will keep her faith once she gets to where she’s going because the pressure to do otherwise can be so great. And, I told her I would pray for her discernment and success wherever she decides to go. With that, I glanced at her dad and saw in his eyes both relief and gratitude. I knew that feeling. I’d been there before.

I don’t know when he and I will talk or see each other again but I believe that, by the grace of this God-moment today, we will be more than acquaintances the next time we meet. I believe that God wanted me to pray for this man and his daughter and thus put him on my heart. And, even though he may not have known how to ask for prayers for the one thing weighing heavily on his heart, I believe we were brought together in that grocery store aisle because the Lord knew my friend needed some reassurance to trust in Him.

“Good and gracious Lord, thank You for Your omnipresence, love and generosity! You answer our prayers when we remain in You, especially when our prayers are directed with charity toward others. Lord, You meet us where we are and use us to bring others closer to You. Thank You for the opportunities that You provide for us to serve You. Amen.”

(Looking for God-Moments, was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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