Ralph and the Amazing Technicolor Pajamas

“My life was spiraling out of control,” my friend shared. “Nothing was working or getting any better, so one afternoon I slipped into a large Manhattan church to sit quietly and pray for healing . . . to someone, anyone or any being who might be listening. I didn’t know what I believed anymore. I just knew I needed to be there. Very gradually I began to feel that often-elusive ‘peace that passes all understanding’ when suddenly an elderly woman stood up several pews in front of me and shouted, ‘Come on, Ralph!’

“Irritated by her intrusion on my silence, I quickly looked up, but nobody was there. Of course, in New York you see a little bit of everything, so I wasn’t too surprised. Perhaps she was talking to a dearly departed loved one. Who knew? But for certain, the space in front of her was completely empty.

“After a minute or so, I heard a chain rattling and a thump and right down the center aisle here comes Ralph – a gray bulldog wearing baggy gray, pink, and yellow striped homemade pajamas. And he had the most compassionate dark brown eyes of any dog I have ever seen. They were striking.

“Well, I just shook my head and laughed to myself,” she continued. “There I was wondering if there even was a God, taking my own problems very seriously and down the aisle comes Ralph. His compassionate eyes spoke volumes to me – a compassionate and loving bulldog? Wearing baggy colorful striped pajamas?”

“That’s right my friend, striped pajamas!” I said, laughing with her.

You see, we worship a God of surprises. A God who can show up in the strangest of disguises to bring us a message of love and healing. A God who communicates that yes, I am in ‘the other’, the one most unlike you, most foreign to you. A God with a sense of humor and playfulness who will do whatever it takes to get our attention.

Ralph’s eyes stared straight through my friend with a look of compassion that is rare in this world, a look that still holds meaning for her many years later. The message to my friend was clear that day. There is something ‘unexplainable’ out there, a force for good, a force for healing that can suddenly come into our life in the most unlikely of ways. Her face was filled with gratitude and a grin from ear-to-ear as she shared her unlikely story.

While most of us will never see Ralph and his amazing technicolor pajamas, we are likely to be touched by the divine in unexpected ways. But first, like my friend, we have to be still. We have to be quiet. We have to put ourselves in the place of most potential.

Then we must be open and ready to receive. It’s far easier for many of us to give than to receive. There can be a natural inclination to explain it away, push it away, convince ourselves that we’re imagining things.

But oh, it is so worth it, so give it a try. Who knows what is just around the corner for you? Are you ready?

god-of-surprises

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