God makes his presence known in small ways

Lorraine’s latest book is “Death Dons a Mask,” set at a small church in Decatur. Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com

My husband and I were driving down a winding road on our way to visit his mom in a nursing home near Emory, when we spotted a Great Blue Heron fishing for minnows in a marshy area. We have seen many of these creatures on our trips to the Gulf of Mexico, but spotting one in the city was quite a treat indeed.

As we got out of the car, I looked down and saw a leaf that had fallen from a tree — certainly not an unusual sight. But somehow the wind had honed the edges of this particular leaf into the exact shape of a heart.

I thought about how God makes his presence known in small gestures, although we’re often too caught up in our busy day to notice. We may rush from home to office without once glancing at the clouds rolling along like ships in an aqua sky. We may be so engrossed in checking our phone that we fail to see a squirrel peering wistfully at us through a window.

The heart-shaped leaf was very fragile and I knew it wouldn’t last long, but at that moment I felt like someone had sent a much-needed message. Things are alright. You’re going through tough times, but I’m still here.

On this day my mother-in-law was sitting placidly in the dining area of the dementia ward, waiting for lunch. All around her were people in wheelchairs, many of them were staring blankly ahead. She smiled when she saw us, and after big hugs, she asked my husband to wheel her back to her room for a visit.

There he doled out a few of her favorite treats — chocolate rum balls and peanut butter cups — as he does on every visit. Although she often gets confused, her memories of childhood are quite clear, and on this day she regaled us with tales about growing up in rural Rome, Georgia. She talked about the time she tried to give her horse a permanent wave — and he was none too pleased.

Later, my husband and I took a long walk and met a friend who introduced us to her latest rescue dog. The animal was very shy, and Rosalyn explained that it had lived near a highway in Macon and never had a home. Over the years, this kind lady has taken in a number of abandoned dogs and showered love on them. They are never fancy purebred animals but are instead humble beasts — and, frankly, if dogs can look grateful, her animals certainly do.

Before long, darkness engulfed the world, and my husband and I sat out on the deck, lit candles and sipped wine as we reflected a bit. We asked ourselves where we had felt the Lord’s presence in this ordinary day.

For me, the answer came quickly – in the heron, the heart-shaped leaf and in the humble hound. The Bible assures us that God is love, and it makes sense that he would send us little messages now and again, assuring us of his kindness. I hoped that if my mother-in-law was pondering the same question, she might mention our visit, the big hugs—and, of course, the chocolate treats.