/ / Little Stories—A Motorcycle, Blue Herons, Triumph, Splendor and the 28th

Little Stories—A Motorcycle, Blue Herons, Triumph, Splendor and the 28th

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For the last few days, “share your story” has been pressing on my heart and weaving through my mind.

“Okay, God, what story am I meant to share now?”

I took this photo yesterday when I woke up and noticed the title of the book.

Here are a few little stories of my life woven together that I want to share with you.

Today is the 28th.

If you knew Jon, you’d know he was quite the storyteller. He loved telling hilarious and detailed stories as much as I love writing and sharing stories that move hearts. I love being trusted with and hearing the stories others share about their lives, especially the vulnerable ones, where tears punctuate the conversations, and I offer a tissue.

Sharing stories with strangers and familiar faces we encountered in our days brought Jon and me much joy and sometimes bittersweet tears. We were known to hold up the checkout lines while chatting with strangers and to be the last to leave an event. 

We wanted to make time for one more story. 

I still love sharing stories and listening to the stories others have to share whenever I can. I especially love telling stories about Jon and our life together. Though I sometimes question if what I share matters. 

The last few days, I am reminded that they matter. And I find sharing stories about where I see God and Jon lately matters a lot as I journey through grief. 

I know the importance of these stories. They are not really about me or Jon or my kids; they are about a bigger picture, how it all weaves together, how we are all connected, and how they reveal the splendor of God. Your stories are significant, too

Sharing stories connects us—the body of Christ.

Sharing our stories heal us and help others heal, too, even when we don’t know how far and wide they reach. 

Stories help us find hope.

Stories help us find our identity in history, especially in the history of Salvation. 

Stories transform us and our hearts.

We know Jesus was a storyteller. He was known to speak to his disciples and followers using stories and parables. Storytelling was His language, too, and how that story of Salvation unfolded. 

“All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

Matthew 13:34-35

As I type this, I realize it has been burning in my heart to hold up a megaphone and shout into the crowds all the stories of what God is writing for, with, and in me and the many ways He is showing me how close Jon is even as I grieve and ache a profound human loss. Liminal space.

Yet, there is no denying the supernatural joy and peace I feel when I get wrapped up in love, watching the details unfold of the story God is writing for me right now through this heartache. 

Even in small doses, sharing my story touches lives—my kids’ as I encourage them to keep going and the lives of those I don’t see or know who read or hear my words. It’s not about me.

We don’t always need to know the whole story.

We are meant to share our stories, though. 

Our joys, sorrows, triumphs, challenges, sufferings and splendor.

“You have a story—and yet somehow you know that ultimately, it’s not about you. It’s a Christ-centered story set in the center of salvation history. Let’s get it out into the waiting world.”

Claire Dwyer 

Sometimes, it’s hard to write all the words on paper or type on the keyboard to neatly and succinctly express how all the details weave together into a captivating piece of literature titled Life. I carry so many stories; I don’t always have enough time, patience, confidence, and trust (in myself) to write them all the time. 

Sharing the anecdotes would likely take a chapter, an hour-long podcast, or a book.

Maybe I meant to keep them in my journal and heart.  

Maybe I meant to share them in small encounters in daily Life. 

This is where the human meets the Divine. 

Temporal meets eternal.

Where story transforms us.

Because our stories are meant to be shared. The more I share parts of my story, the more I heal the broken and grieving places as love pours out and fills those cavernous voids. 

The more I share stories of finding light and joy in my life where suffering and struggle attempt to take over, the more I know I am meant to show how light and love win even in the heart aches. Even when I am holding space for the 10th month, 307th day, without Jon by my side, this side of Heaven. But who is counting? 

This past weekend, I exchanged a few beautiful and tender stories with someone I’ve known for many years, now a new widow. In sharing our many similar experiences of caring for a husband living with and dying from cancer, I described the story and significance of our messenger—a blue heron— that was sent to Jon and me while we took a walk the night before he had his second surgery in 2021. 

I told her the many beautiful ways the Blue Heron keeps showing up.

The night before his stroke and the direction of our lives changed our story even more than a diagnosis of brain cancer did on its own. It sometimes felt like we were living a story that resembled Life with details only found in people’s worst nightmares. 

But we were given graces, consolations, supernatural peace, blue herons, and many miracles along the way. Even dreams were brought to Life during those hard days.

The blue heron continued to land in our lives many times over the last few years and continues to weave through our story. I find this especially true when I call out to God and Jon in my widow ache, and “lo and behold,” a Blue Heron lands close in many forms—a real bird, a picture, a pillow, a mug, a card painted by a friend we made for our shop and through a local, new venue with the name Blue Heron gifting us a rental space for a milestone birthday. 

As I explained the many times the blue heron showed up for us since Jon died, my text notification chimed a few times. A few minutes later, I checked my phone for the time because I needed to head home. I quickly glanced at the text messages to ensure my kids didn’t need me. 

I wasn’t by my kids, but I needed to see my friend’s Blue Heron pics in the text she just sent. 

Impeccable timing.

She had no way of knowing we were talking about these beautiful creatures who have become a sign of God’s love for me and that Jon is near.

As I was wrapping up my time with my new widow friend, I quickly texted back my other friend that her timing was definitely the Holy Spirit and I would share more later. 

Before calling her and after parting ways with the friend I met up with, I stopped at a store.

When I walked in, I was keenly aware of the abundance of bird images surrounding me. It made me smile. It felt like a regular Saturday afternoon browsing a shop with Jon. For a moment, I didn’t feel so alone. 

Then I saw another piece of art. As I gazed at it, I wanted to know if it was a Blue Heron or a Crane. I stared at it, smiling for a long time. Though I didn’t see her face, I heard another shopper ask from across the store if they knew where that blue heron print was. I was sure she was talking about the one that caught my attention.

A few minutes later, as I was checking out, she approached the line holding the same picture of a Blue Heron I had looked at a few minutes before.

I smiled at the shopper and the image. We exchanged stories about how the Blue Heron was her “messenger” from someone she loved and lost. I shared the story of my Messenger throughout our journey and how, just earlier, Herons had been part of the conversation.

These moments of consolation are not by luck. The details are too intricate not to be designed by the Creator and the Great Author. 

The Blue Heron has landed in our lives many times these last several months. The details of this story of consolation this past weekend and yesterday, when I needed a hug and reassurance from above, still take my breath away.

Yesterday, I had an appointment that has been causing me great angst. Add that to the agony of grief and walking through these difficult moments without Jon here to hold my hand and calm my fears.

It makes sense that I would ask for grace and consolation.

“Jesus Be Near.”

“Jon, show me you are here.”

God didn’t just send me a single sign. And I am certain Jon was near.

He sends me several that, when woven together, create a story all their own. Reading and listening to stories is a language that heals my soul.

When my children were little, I would invite them to crawl onto my lap and read/tell them stories when they needed extra love or to calm their fears.

Similarly, stories are how God draws me close to His heart when I need to be held like my children or to calm my fears. 

On my way to the appointment yesterday, traffic was mounting, and I was anxious I would arrive later than expected. I asked God to slow down time so I would be on time. 

Instead, God placed “a guide,” a motorcyclist driving very slowly in front of me, to lead me to the appointment I dreaded. 

Once I noticed the signs and graces, I felt my white-knuckle grip loosen from the wheel, and the ache lift from my heart.

Mr. Motorcycle was undoubtedly a vision/stature of Jon from behind even down to the pants; tears filled my eyes. He was driving so slowly I was forced to see what caught my eye first: a tail light shaped like a bright red heart and and the two times he threw down the peace sign to me.

The longer I followed, the more details I caught. At a stop sign, I got close enough to notice the license plate was a combination of the numbers of the day Jon died. 

Because I was now so focused on the details of this encounter, I missed my turn. I huffed, realizing I got distracted, and thought, “just great, I will be even later.”

Now, I was off the path, or so I thought. But following my motorcycle guide, that captured my attention, shaved many minutes off my time, arriving earlier than expected. 

God, you lead, I will follow.

Talk about a Divine moment.

As I turned off and bid farewell to my temporary guide, I noticed the word “triumph” on the back of the bike. Did you know the “church triumphant” are those members of the church who have died and are regarded as enjoying eternal happiness through union with God.

Many consolations and details were woven together in a neat little story that got me through this dreaded appointment weighing on my heart.

Once I got to my destination, the first person I encountered wore a necklace, and I asked what it was to confirm what I saw. “She said it was Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.” 

As I was praising the necklace, a text came through. 

The same friend who sent me the Blue Heron pictures on Saturday, by chance, sent me the picture of several Blue Herons on a pillow, one of the same images she sent me Saturday. 

But this time, there was also a small image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her rosary bag beside the pillow. She would have no way of knowing the person I encountered at my appointment would be wearing Our Lady of Guadalupe around her neck, which caught my attention. My friend didn’t even know about the appointment. 

There’s one more thing about the Mary and Blue Heron. 

When I spoke to the friend after the many blue heron moments on Saturday, I shared more details about the first time Jon and I encountered that heron. I realized I just so happen to be driving past the exact location where we first saw it in 2021. 

While she and I spoke about it, she asked if there was any connection between a Blue Heron and the Blessed Mother because Mary is often associated with the color blue. 

I am not sure about Mary, but I do know it relates to Christ in some cultures.

But now A Blue Heron and Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, a favorite title of Mary show up together a few days later after our Saturday conversation. 

Perhaps a moment to show me how God weaves these threads of our stories so intricately together with the stories of others, even over a matter of days and a lifetime. 

Every detail in these stories matters. 

This is how a motorcycle with a tag bearing the numbers resembling a date of significance, a necklace of Mary—Our Lady of Guadalupe—a text from a friend with a Blue Heron & Guadalupe, and then a stranger who I met at the end of my appointment and shared a story of her loved one whose name is the same as Jon’s first and middle name only in a different order. 

After carrying some heavy things the last few weeks beyond the story of grief, I asked for God to send me grace or a sign reminding me He would take care of everything and maybe send me a sign/signal grace. Jon was near as I found the strength to walk through these things (oh so many things) without him these last 10 months.  

Not only did the Great Author and Wordsmith send me a consolation, but He also sent me an entire story with threads woven through the stories of a few others over the last few days in this militant church—the suffering church.

He sent me a story, a gift, and grace that speaks so tenderly and directly to my storyteller’s heart that the one I love and who has gone before me sooner than my heart can ever take still lets me know how close this church Triumphant really is. 

St Edmund Campion writes, “We human beings are storytellers, we pass on our values through the stories we tell. This is particularly true of Catholics, who get their identity through their histories, which they see as salvation history linking them to the saving actions of Christ. So, for Catholics, doing history – passing on the values by telling stories – is a pastoral imperative. We must look where we have been in order to know where we are going.”

We human beings are storytellers, we pass on our values through the stories we tell…We must look where we have been in order to know where we are going.”

St. Edmund Campion

May we look where we have been to know where we are going as we write our stories, even if we follow a random motorcycle sent by God to guide us.

I want to share one last detail that seems the most fitting end of this story. 

I left the appointment after all of these winks from above, feeling a sense of relief it was over and I found supernatural peace. The first thing I noticed through the soft raindrops was a license plate that said “splendor.” The last time (aside from the motorcycle plate) God showed me His splendor/grandeur through a license plate was when my beloved’s name, “JON,” and his birth year were inscribed on a plate in front of us while we were stalled in traffic after moving my son into school in August. 

I am in constant awe of His splendor and consolation.

A verse in Isaiah 6:2 comes to mind, “The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem (crown) in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.”

We need to share our unique testimony to the greatness of God. Christ died to bring out the richness of Life as we show His radiance; He crowned us with glory/splendor, honor, and majesty unique to each of us (Ps 8:5), even in our suffering and sorrow. The promise is Heaven, and God declares that he will heal all things and make all things new. 

Shine your unique testimony. In other words, tell your story of the greatness and splendor of God.

May we have the eyes to see God’s splendor right before us.

May we shine our testimony. 

May we tell our stories and be ready to give the reason for our hope.

May we give all glory and splendor to Him.

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”

1 Peter 3:15

To you my dear Jon—10 months too long for this storyteller and church militant…One day closer to triumph, splendor, and seeing Jon’s smiling face again.

Tell me what story can you share about the splendor of God and the reason for your hope today? I would love to hear your story.

The time a Blue Heron landed on the House On Jon’s first Birthday in Heaven

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2 Comments

  1. Dear Heather,
    Your ability to weave all of your experiences together by the Grace of God is a gift.
    A gift that we your readers can continue to unwrap in our minds and souls.

    Thank you for sharing your story and showing us God’s grace, love and presence in every aspect of your life.
    Your attention to details enables you to ” see” his presence in all things.

    How beautiful you are. How grateful I am to grow in my own faith through your trust in God in the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health.

    May God’s peace, which is beyond our human understanding, wrap around you like a snuggle by the fire.

    Love,
    Sharon

    1. I so appreciate your message and I am so glad to hear the words help you grow your faith!!! Much love

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