The doubts were gone. Belief was no longer questioned. Now I KNEW. I knew that God existed and was out there and loved us all.
I first shared my experience with my buddy at work. Jerry, yet another Catholic friend who attended the same church as Mary and Mitch, had long been one of my go-to friends in all matters of religion. He found my story to be amazing and saw it as a sign from God that He wanted a deeper relationship with me.
Mary and Mitch also found it to be a sign as well as a gift from God. According to them, few people get to experience such a gift. They encouraged me to attend church with them and offered to answer any questions I had about their faith.
For me, it was enough that God granted me the gift. I was happier. I looked at the world differently. I was friendlier to people I met. Not everything was sunshine and roses as there were still some anger issues with my job to work out, but overall everything seemed to be going my way.
My curiosity about religion and faith grew, especially my curiosity about signs from God. How do you recognize them? What do they mean? Why do I receive them?
My friends believed in them but had no answers to my questions. They suggested talking to a priest, an idea that I didn’t exactly relish.
I searched the Internet and found none of the answers I sought.
A week or two after watching the movie, I stopped at a local Barnes & Noble to find some new reading material. I looked for anything in the typical genres I read at the time: History; Sports; Star Wars, of course; and Biographies. Nothing screamed out “Read me!”
I was headed for the exit when I came upon a table full of books that were labeled “Religion”. Huh, I thought. Can’t hurt to look.
I walked along one side of the table, running my hand across the book covers as I read them. I wonder if they have any about signs? At that exact moment my hand was resting atop a book titled Signs and Wonders. I stopped and slapped my hand across my eyes and began laughing. If THAT isn’t a sign, then nothing is.
Still laughing at what had just happened, I picked up the book to see what it had to say about the subject of signs from on high. Written by a Quaker pastor named Philip Gulley – a fellow Hoosier, no less! – the book was actually the third part of a series of humorous fictional novels about a Quaker pastor in the fictional town of Harmony, Indiana. The book wasn’t what I was looking for, but a snippet of the first chapter was enough for me to give the book a try.
Two days later I snapped the book shut after I was finished reading it. The book was fantastic and was more than enough to convince me to seek out the rest of the series. The Harmony series continued for a few more years, ending with eight books in total. All of them were a joy to read.
In between book releases I also read some of Mr. Gulley’s other works. Some were enlightening. Some were controversial. Along the way I, along with Kevin and Leasa, had the opportunity to attend a program that included Mr. Gulley and my favorite musician, Carrie Newcomer. After the program ended I had the chance to meet Mr. Gulley and thank him for the enjoyment his books had given me.
True to form, I was tongue tied and struggled to get the proper words out. He and his wife were charming and gracious and walked me through a brief conversation. Leasa, completely unfazed, stepped into help, saying the things I meant to say myself.
A year later I wrote a letter to Mr. Gulley expressing my thoughts, my appreciation, and how his books inspired me to write down the story ideas that populated by head. A few weeks later I received a response. In it he shared his thanks and appreciation for my readership and sent his encouragement to pursue my own writing. I was floored!
After meeting him and receiving his correspondence, I reflected on what brought me to that moment. In seeking out an answer to my questions about signs from God, I found instead an author whose gift gave me years of enjoyment and inspired me to do the same. It was, I felt, a pretty fair trade off.