Monday, January 23, 2012

The Heron of Hope

I was going back to work full time.  I had been doing some part-time work cleaning and working for an optician, but now I was starting a full-time job with Coca-Cola.  Just a few days into my third week at Coca-Cola, I received a call that Philip may have broken his leg playing soccer in the school yard and was on his way by ambulance to St. Agnes Hospital.  I left work immediately and headed for the hospital.  I thought on the way there that probably in a couple of days, we'd have to keep him from racing around on his crutches.  

Not so!  When Larry and I were shown the x-rays, we saw that Philip had two three-inch breaks, one in the tibia and one in the fibula of the right leg.  Slowly, as we received more information from the doctors, we realized that Philip would have to be in bed or a wheelchair with his leg extended for two months and would need help. We tried to find help that we could afford, but after two weeks, I knew that I would have to stay home.  Unfortunately, the company would only hold my job for two weeks, and I still had no one to care for Phil.  So, I would have to leave my job.
I was glad to stay home with Philip, but I was concerned about how we would get enough money together to pay both boys' tuition now that I couldn't work for the months of October, November, and December.  I was concerned, too, because the unemployment rate was rising and jobs were getting much harder to come by.  Also, the tuition rate for Mount Saint Joseph was very high.

Philip had been in a cast for two weeks, and the next day I had to go to Coca-Cola to clean out my desk and take home my personal things.  It was so final and my money-worry level had risen quite high. Larry was at home when I came back, so I told him I wanted to go to the library for awhile. My local library was my respite spot.  I forgot my troubles for a few hours while I browsed, but as I got into my car, the worry was there again ready to nestle in my head. I drove from the library and stopped to make a right-hand turn onto Edmondson Avenue when I saw what seemed an enormous shadow pass over the car from where I was stopped. Believing my eyes were playing tricks on me, I pulled over and looked into the yard.  There sitting at
the edge of a goldfish pond was a blue heron, and he was about to catch dinner.

I was amazed.  A blue heron in the middle of a busy suburb!  I wondered if the people in whose backyard this bird was fishing was aware of his dining at their pond.  When I arrived home, I told Larry about the bird. He said it had probably come from the state park, about four miles away. Last summer, he had seen a couple of blue heron fishing in the Patapsco River.

Later that evening, my son found another book that needed to be taken back to the library so as not to pay a fine. The next day as Phil napped, I drove to the library.  This time I was just dropping off the book and was in a hurry when a young mom I knew stopped me on the steps. "How is Phil?" she wanted to know.  I explained his injury and then she asked about my job, having heard that I had started back to work.  I shared I had just cleared out my desk the day before and was feeling anxious about tuition money. "Well," she said, "just remember Corrie Ten Boom."  (Corrie was a Christian Dutch woman, who, along with many members of her family, was placed in a German concentration camp for hiding Jews during the invasion of Holland). My friend continued, "When Corrie's days were the darkest in that awful place, God sent a sparrow to land in the prison yard. Corrie saw the sparrow as a sign of God being with her and she took hope." 

I was in such a hurry that I am afraid her words of encouragement failed to penetrate until I stopped at that same stop sign where I had seen the blue heron the day before.  As I sat waiting for the traffic to pass, I laughed at God's humor.  For Corrie, He sent a sparrow. For me, I needed a huge bird not normally seen in the city and someone
to speak words of hope.

Philip's leg did heal, I got a part-time job, and the boys' tuition was paid on time. Thank God for those blessings, including signs of hope.

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