Impulses arising in our hearts ‘out of the blue’

Lorraine Murray

Lorraine Murray

I felt a tugging at my heart, when I recalled an old friend I hadn’t seen for years. She and her husband had been friends with my late husband and myself, but then we drifted apart because of political differences.

Sadly, my husband and I had hardened our hearts against these folks who still loved us, despite our differences. That day, I felt a pang of regret and was inspired to ask for my friend’s forgiveness.

“I don’t exactly know how to describe this,” I wrote in my email, “but on the way home from the grocery store this morning, I suddenly started thinking about you and had a strong sense that I needed to contact you.”

What is the source of these mysterious impulses that strike us “out of the blue”? I found an explanation in “Treatise on the Love of God,” by Francis de Sales: “Inspiration is a heavenly ray that brings into our hearts a warm light that makes us see the good, and fires us on to its pursuit.”

I believe God gently nudges our hearts, and then we decide how to react. These impulses can be quite humble, since Elijah sought God in a storm, an earthquake and a fire, but discovered him in a “still small voice.”

Later, I realized I’d sent the email shortly after Yom Kippur, the day of atonement for Jewish people, which is linked with forgiveness and repentance. My friend wrote a kind response, and said she also was thinking about me that same week.

It took a while before we met in person, but eventually we set a date. When I went to visit her, she greeted me warmly at the door, and led me to a cozy place in the kitchen, where she served homemade butter cookies.

I apologized for the rift in our friendship and the years of silence. We hugged each other tightly, and I felt a sense of peace, because rekindling our connection was the right thing to do.

About a month later, she wrote to tell me her husband had been diagnosed with an incurable type of cancer. Her life was upended in a matter of moments, when the doctors explained the seriousness of his condition. She hoped he would regain some quality of life that he’d had before the illness, and asked me to pray.

That email shocked me deeply, first out of sorrow for my friend and her husband, but also because I felt there’d been another reason for my visit, besides reconciliation, which was her future need for prayers.

I began praying immediately for her husband’s “health and salvation,” using a phrase I learned from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, which stresses physical, as well as spiritual, healing.

Prayer is the strongest spiritual connection between people. Even if someone is thousands of miles away, we can still forge a bond through prayer. We can pray for a stranger walking down the street, the guy in the car ahead of us, and for people we haven’t seen in years.

The psalmist writes, “Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” We all get little nudges in our hearts, tiny impulses, delicate whispers, which strike us out of the blue — and are signs of God’s loving providence. May we have the grace to recognize God’s voice, and follow his inspirations.

Lorraine has written eight books, available online. Her email address is