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5/07/2014

My encounter with Peace

Last Friday afternoon, I had an encounter with someone that I most certainly will never forget.  I'd like to share it with you.

My day started off pretty normal.   I was rushed and hurried to get out the door to get the kids to school and then head to work.  It was a stunningly beautiful day.  Without a cloud in sight, the slight breeze  perfectly complimented the 70 degree weather that was just begging people to pause from what they were doing to come outside and enjoy all the best of what spring has to offer. 

For me, that wasn't an option.  With a to-do-list of 30+ things that I was trying to get done before an incredibly busy weekend, looking out my two wonderfully large office windows was as good as it was going to get.  

However, my morning really started off great!  Our dear friends Deacon Steve and Sharon Germain who were visiting from Souther California delivered to me (for Johnny and I) a sacred gift-on-loan from a very special priest, Fr. Patrick Moses.   This gift happened to be a first class relic of our dear St. Therese of Lisieux.  Fr. Patrick, knowing of our love and devotion to her has allowed us to keep this relic in our home for a year as we pray for a group of police officers from his parish.  Not only do we feel so blessed and honored to have this relic in our home, but we also feel so humbled that this incredible priest would ask us to join him in prayer for these officers that he ministers to.  I can only imagine how the intercession of St. Therese will impact their lives.  As always, miracles will most certainly abound. 

After graciously receiving this relic, I instantly became terrified about losing it. So I put it in the only place that I could think of at the moment to keep it safe until I could get it home,  a secret pocket inside my purse, and I smiled at the thought of St. Therese being with me throughout the day.

As I continued with my work, I instantly was aware that I had forgotten to do something important that morning.  (This is where I apologize in advance for sharing too much information, but there is a point to this, I promise).  In my rushed state to get out the door earlier in the morning, I had forgotten to put on deodorant.  Suddenly, this reality was starting to really bother me.  Deodorant is well... kind of important to me.   But being very focused on work I became incredibly annoyed at myself for this inconvenience.  I didn't have time to break away to drive to the store, but I also knew it would continue to bother me if I didn't do something about it.  So, I decided to run across the street to the Jacksons gas station to see if they had a travel size deodorant.  

I quickly grabbed my purse (with St. Therese in it) and bolted out the door, determined to be back to work in under two minutes.   As I turned the corner of my office in the direction of the gas station I began to walk past my favorite landscape in front of our office.  In the spring, it always takes my breath away and brings me so much joy.  Nestled between the concrete sidewalks and two asphalt office parking lots is a small patch of green grass decorated with hundreds of vibrant pink, purple and yellow tulips that are perfectly offset by one stunningly beautiful pink dogwood tree.




As I hurriedly walked past my favorite area, I glanced down to my right to see a man sitting in the grass whom appeared to painting.  I stopped just for a second to see exactly what he was doing and noticed a half painted water coloring of this beautiful scene.  I paused just long enough to gently speak the words, "Wow, that's beautiful," in reference to his painting, and then continue on to my destination.  Thankfully, they had deodorant.  Wahoo!  I was in and out in just one minute and headed back to my office.  But as I began to walk back, my heart was moved in such a way that I knew I needed to stop for a moment and talk to this man who was painting.  Something about him captivated me and although I knew I had a bazillion things to get done, I was clearly being prompted to slow down in order to be present to this moment that God was unfolding before me. 

As I approached him, we began to talk.  His painting was nearing completion and I really couldn't believe how beautiful it was.  He told me that he was in town for a gymnastics meet that he was coaching and had the day off.  He borrowed a bicycle from the hotel (a pink one in fact), which he casually joked, "was the envy of any 7th grade girl".  I laughed as I secretly admired his confidence to ride around town on that hot pink girls bicycle.  As he was riding back from the Co-op he noticed the flowers and dogwood in front of my office and decided to stop, eat his lunch and paint.


I was about to ask him if I could take a picture of his painting on my phone when he asked me if I would like the painting for myself.  I was speechless.  I had already been given one extraordinary gift that day (the Relic) and now this beautiful painting....it was almost too much for me to contain the gratitude in my heart.  I responded, "are you sure, really.... no, I can't" even though inside I was screaming, "YES!!  Are you kidding,  I would LOVE your painting!  It would mean so much to me!" I was grateful when he insisted, saying it was meant to be and that he would often give away his paintings to strangers.  Seriously, who am I to receive such a gift!

We talked for a few more minutes as he finished the last touches.  He asked me my name so that he could sign it for me, and then I asked him his name to which we responded with a smile, "my friends call me Peace."  

At that moment, I became incredibly thankful for the sunglasses I was wearing as they were able to hide the burning tears that began to well up in my eyes.  I tried to keep the conversation going as I choked down the emotion rising up inside of me.   Instantly I was hit with the incredible realization that God was most certainly orchestrating a miracle before me.  You see, a few weeks earlier I had really been struggling with a series of frustrating events in my life.  They weren't life shattering experiences, but they bothered me enough that I experienced several days of anger, bitterness and resentment all leading up to (of all things) Holy week.   Thankfully, I had the opportunity to go to confession a few days earlier and was able to confess these things.  I remember telling the priest that all these negative emotions were robbing me of my peace and that I needed God's grace to let them go.  After my confession, and already feeling the presence of God's peace, I spent a few moments in front of the Blessed Sacrament begging our Lord to continue flood my soul with the gift of His peace and to allow me to fully let go of my negativity.  I confidently believed He would help me with this request.

This is why the moment this artist revealed himself to me as Peace, I knew God was answering my prayer in the flesh.  It's as if He was saying to me, "My child, I love you and today I give to you (in person) my gift of Peace." Oh, how our Lord can never be outdone in His generosity.   Peace not only signed his name on the painting but also entitled it, "Feel Loved" which quite fittingly summed up my exact emotions at that moment.

My heart was pounding as I graciously accepted this gift and as I was franticly trying to hold back my tears, I somehow seemed to muster these words, "Well I'm so thankful that I was able to encounter Peace today."  We talked briefly for a few more minutes and then I said goodbye and headed back to the refuge of my office where I was safe to let the tears out.  I just couldn't contain the tears nor the joy that was pouring over within me.  I kept looking at the beautiful painting and sat in disbelief of what had just happened.  I also kept thanking God for this miracle and while doing so was reminded of the fact that St. Therese had been with me during it as well.

I shared with some of my wonderful co-workers what had happened and their first question was, "Lorissa, do you think he might have been an angel?"  My response, "that's what I thought at first, but he has website, so I think he's a real human being."

Peace has a beautiful website, www.thepeaceartist.com which I looked at once I composed myself.  He is an extraordinary artist.  His talent is undeniable but the fact that he uses his gift of painting to bring peace to this world and peace to hearts like mine, well....I just can't find the words to describe it.  You'll just have to see for yourself.

I wish that I could go back in time and truly thank him for the painting.  I wish I could tell him how much it means to me and how much of an inspiration he is and how he will be in my prayers for years to come.

Although I do not have the ability to paint, I hope to "pay it forward" by using the gifts God has given me to bring His peace to others.  After my encounter with Peace, I am now so much more aware of the great desire within me to leave people with a sense of peace after being with them.  I can only imagine how extraordinary life would be to be the giver of such a gift.


Finally, I conclude with the point that I want to make regarding the deodorant.  Sometimes in life we are faced with minor or even sometimes major inconveniences.  During these moments we can choose to get frustrated by them or we can choose to look at them as opportunities in which God may want to reveal something to us.  From now on, I'm going to try to focus on the latter response with the hope that God will continue to use those moments to weave His miracles and messages within my daily life.

Also, sometimes we can be in such a hurry, so focused on the urgent things that we often times over look the most important things.  I'm thankful that I had enough grace in the moment to stop and have an encounter with Peace last Friday that has greatly impacted my life.  And the beautiful water color painting (that is currently being framed) will be a lasting reminder of a greater reality of peace that has been forever painted on my heart.

Today, I pray that God's peace would flood your soul in such a way that it overflows to the hearts and lives of others.

In Christ,

Lorissa













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