“After awhile, as I lay there, I became aware of someone with me, hunkered down in the corner, and I just assumed it was my father, whose presence I had felt over the years when I was frightened and alone.
The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light for a moment to make sure no one was there – of course, there wasn’t.
But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond any doubt that it was Jesus. I felt him as surely as I feel my dog lying nearby as I write this.”
~ Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies
Some years ago, I went outside of our house. It was a quite bright and sunny day, I remember. The front of our house needed to be swept and cleaned up again. Dried leaves fell daily from our neighbor’s trees more than ours. I wondered if they knew.
I swept up the fallen leaves, gathering them towards the side of our house. Next, I moved on to pulling the weeds out of the outside potted plants. The Pops loved to plant. But it seemed that only I could see the tangled and thick weeds coming out of those pots and get annoyed by ’em. “How can you enjoy the flowers, when you can’t even see ’em through all of those weeds?” I often asked him.
The sun seemed to be getting brighter by the hour. I was really sweating now, and hoping to get done soon, so that I could go back inside.
From behind me, I heard the sound of slippers walking in my direction. The Pops must be coming out to see how I was getting along and probably also to make sure that I wasn’t cutting down any of the expensive trees that he had bought (had done before, but just once). “Hey, Pops! Whatchu doing outside? Go back inside because it’s really hot outside here,” I said to him.
I turned my head to the side a little, as I continued to pull out the stubborn weeds. My old stained sun hat helped to keep some of the bright sunlight outta my eyes, while helping to hold back my forehead sweat from flowing down over my eyes too. From my peripheral vision, the Pops appeared to be wearing his faded light yellow-colored long pants and brown slippers again. Because I often had to bleach his clothes in the wash, his light yellow-colored “comfy home pants” sometimes looked white-ish when he wore them outside.
After about a minute, I decided to repeat myself to the Pops again, because I didn’t hear him walking away from me, and back towards the house again. “Go inside, Pops, cuz t’s really hot. You’re gonna get more sunburned,” I said.
The Pops already had a permanent sunburn on his arms and shoulders, and even on his ears, because he was always walking along the backside of our house for several hours each day. I was always worried that he would get hurt whenever he went on those lonesome walks by himself while I was at work. That was my biggest fear back then.
After about another minute, I decided to ask the Pops again because he wasn’t walking away or around me either. Maybe he was silent because he was looking at the sky, or was admiring a new flower that had bloomed. He always beamed with pride whenever that happened.
So I turned my head around, as I pushed up my sun hat from my eyes. But nobody was there behind me.
Huh? Where did the Pops go? He couldn’t have walked away without me hearing him dragging his slippers. Or was it him? But even if it wasn’t him, where did whoever it was go?
I couldn’t believe it because I was certain that I had heard and seen someone coming my way. I wasn’t outside long enough for the sunlight to have gotten to me, making me delirious or sumthin, that it coulda just been my imagination.
I tried to think back on what I had thought I had seen again, although the person had been semi-blocked by the side of my hat. What was that person wearing again? Well, he was wearin’ sumthin’ white…and had slippers on. As soon as I had recalled that person’s attire to myself, I gasped. Could it have been? Ooh…whoa.
To this day, I know and believe that it had been Jesus who had visited me that day. I believe that He had come to remind me of His constant presence. That He would always be near. Near enough to hear my prayers and near enough to know all of my pains, worries, and hardships. And near enough to give me hope and strength for each day.
“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.
I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
~ Jeremiah 29:13-14a
What moves me the most about that day and that experience is that I actually had not been looking for Jesus. It was just another day for me, in which I was dreading to go through until it had passed, as I heavily sighed and plodded along in this miserable existence called Life. But oh, Jesus did come – and when I had least expected it. What a blessing that day had been for me. A blessedly huge reminder that He will always be here beside me, no matter how deep my troubles and sorrows are seeming to pile up heavily over me. To that I say, Hallelujah!
“the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.
And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
a light has shined.”
~ Matthew 4:16