As the board secretary of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, I have the joy of answering all the emails that we receive about the conference. Back in 2008, I received an email from a woman named Tobey who helps run the Women of Christ Conference in Cederburg, Wisconsin with some questions about a speaker we were hosting. We quickly became friends over the internet. She and I have been corresponding for five years now, sharing many conference ideas and also our lives. We have become more than pen pals, and developed a strong relationship, more like spiritual sisters. I have had a strong desire to attend the Women of Christ Conference and actually meet her in person for several years, but with our busy lives and a long road trip between us, it just has never happened.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in my hometown of St. John, Indiana. (See the original post here.) On Holy Saturday, I took my kids there to more fully prepare for Easter. We stopped at the Sanctity of Life Shrine, a statue of Christ kneeling while holding an aborted baby. There was a women there with us, deep in prayer. My kids were asking so many questions like “Mom, why is the baby Jesus is holding so small? What is this place?” I quietly answered them and quickly whisked them away so as not to disturb her prayer. As we started walking toward the prayer trail, I saw a little boy wearing a ‘St Francis Borgia Catholic’ shirt with the word Catholic with symbols of our faith in place of some of the letters running by. The image (pictured above) was unmistakable and I recognized it immediately as my friend Tobey had shared it with me earlier this year. Knowing St. Francis Borgia was her parish, I asked his dad if he attended that school. He replied, “Yes, we are from Cedarburg Wisconsin.” I shared that I had seen the tshirt design because my friend Tobey sent it to me in an email. He interrupted me, ‘Tobey Neuberger? She’s right there.’ He pointed to his wife, the woman I was just standing next to at the Sanctity of Life shrine. I couldn’t believe it!! I was so completely overwhelmed with joy to meet her and finally talk in person!
We had a short chat and she shared she always knew we would someday meet unexpectedly. She had no idea I was originally from St John or that I would be there that day. She, too, loves the shrine and had taken her family down for a day trip before visiting some family in Chicago for Easter. I still cannot believe how the Holy Spirit timed it so we would both arrive at the shrine at the exact same moment, and that her son would be wearing that t-shirt so I would recognize her!!
The shrine was packed and I don’t think even if I knew she was coming, I could have arranged for a meeting time. I could not help but think, what are the chances of living 8 hours away from someone and randomly meeting at a mutual spot? I don’t know the statistics, but I do know that I was profoundly impacted to see God reach down and touch my life so directly. I’m writing this down not only to share with you, but to reflect back on it in times when I may not feel His presence so intimately.
One of my favorite scripture verses is Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? God is ever present in our daily lives. Some days I may have to look harder than others but some days He bowls me over with his love and mercy. I know this moment was a glimpse of what Heaven will be like!