As a teen, one of my favorite songs was Signs by Five Man Electrical Band. It’s one of those songs that catches you off guard and finds itself stuck in your head at random moments decades later, but I never really paid attention to the words or the meanings behind the words. If I had perhaps it wouldn’t have been one of my favorites, but it really is a catchy tune and, although I disagree with some of them, the lyrics have some good points too.
Over the years, I’ve thought about what signs mean and how they apply to life. I’m not talking about street signs but about other, less tangible, less man made signs. I’ve also thought about signs I’ve misinterpreted and those I’ve missed or plain just ignored.
Never did I want so badly to understand signs as I did in the months after my husband left. I replayed details of our 17 year relationship. I agonized trying to read into things without going overboard. I too often asked myself what I had missed? How could I prevent this from happening to myself or to another again?
There were the cliché signs I shrugged off.
He works long hours; he deserves a break.
He needs to stay in the city; the commute is too long otherwise.
That long hair in our bedroom could have come from anywhere.
There were subtle questions I tried asking only to be shot down by his curt responses. There was that uneasy feeling when the story just didn’t add up somehow, but I couldn’t quite get my finger on why. There were the questions others asked me that I would shrug off, “My husband would never…”
But he did.
At one point, I was so upset that I’d given him my wedding ring and asked him to give it back to me when he was “ready to be married,” but even then, I’d hoped – and I put aside signs that should have been major warnings of trouble in a relationship. I hoped, if I could just do everything right, if I could just not rock the boat, everything would be okay, but those signs I ignored were not just coming from cruel human actions.
Signs are given to us by God, and it is up to us to accept, deny, or ignore them. Some call it Women’s Intuition, but men have it too. You know what it is when something is wrong, the little hairs standing tall on the back of your neck, the nauseous pit in your stomach that won’t go away, the feeling of walking on eggshells when you don’t know why.
But they weren’t all the signs I’d gotten.
We had been building our house. It was a long, difficult process but one we took pride in. We had limited funds and little time for making things beautiful yet, but we did what we could. We needed patience and fortitude to look past the present incompleteness to the future possibility. Knowing this, I began by planting roses on either side of the steps leading to the front porch, and these weren’t just any roses. They were Love Roses.
I wanted anyone entering our home to be surrounded by Love, but my husband rarely used that front door. He didn’t see the Love Roses, and, while the one side of the steps grew small, but beautiful, wild, untamed Love roses, the other side, which had received the same soil, water and sun, slowly and for unknown reasons withered and died leaving nothing but scarred and thorny branches on the that side of the steps.
Was the death of the Love Roses also a sign?
A little over six months before my husband left suddenly, I had gone to my son’s soccer game. Things seemed to be going well with my husband and I again. Marriages, I’d learned, have ups and downs, and we seemed to be in an up period. I knew I loved him, and he seemed to love me too, but I ignored, or refused to acknowledge too deeply, that he still hadn’t returned my wedding ring, that I still had that uneasy feeling, that I was still unsure of myself.
I returned from the soccer game and noticed the diamond was missing from my engagement ring which I had never stopped wearing. Nothing but a bent prong and an empty place setting lay where the small but glittering stone had once sat. I returned to the fields. I asked everyone I could find. I searched the car top to bottom. No sign of the stone.
Was the loss of the diamond, meant to last forever, another sign from God?
Were these signs or coincidences? Were they messages from God or just happenstances of a cruel and fickle fate? I no longer believe in fate. God has a hand in everything, and we must look for the possibilities of signs that might or might not be found and keep ourselves open for the messages The Lord sends, the Love Notes that are sometimes hard to receive that we get from The Father who Loves us completely.
In Tuesday’s, Gospel reading, the crowds ask Jesus, “What sign can you do for us that we may believe in you?”
They were looking for tangible evidence of who Jesus was, hoping for something similar to Moses’ gift of bread in the desert, but Jesus replied,
Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.
At that the people asked The Savior to give them that special bread and Jesus replied,
I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
Jesus offers more than a sign. He offers tangible evidence of Love for them, and yet several in the crowd refused to acknowledge the Bread, the sign Jesus offered was not good enough. It seemed strange and unwelcome. Who would make his body, bread? Who would be able to satisfy so fully in a world of such pain, misdirection, and want? The people didn’t want to acknowledge that Jesus was giving them more than just a sign, He was giving them Himself, but they wanted more
And many walked away from Him.
And Jesus watched them go. He didn’t push Himself on them, He didn’t run after them or change His story. He didn’t say that He really meant He is like the Bread of Life, but maintained that He is the Bread of Life. He, who never lies or deceives, truly is the Bread of Life.
Ignoring the signs of a wounded relationship causes pain beyond what many who have not been so hurt would have thought possible, but ignoring the signs Jesus has offered us, denying the words He gave us, not once, but several times in the Bible, denying that Jesus is the Bread of Life and that He is with us in the Eucharist, separates us from the Lord in a way much more damaging than the ignored signs of a floundering relationship. The pain of the broken marriage is nothing compared to the pain of a broken relationship with the Lord who heals all.
Catholics wounded by divorce sometimes feel isolated by the church and are tempted to turn to more sympathetic, more “exciting” churches, but, as Matthew Kelly states in Decision Point, his Confirmation series, it is not the music or the preaching or the sympathetic ear that hold us to the Catholic church. It is the Eucharist. It is the Body of Christ. Even if your relationship with the church has suffered, make no mistake, the Eucharist is still there for you. Jesus is still there for you. The Mass is still there for you.
a sign of the Lord’s Love for YOU,
is too important to miss.
We are all Catholics in God’s heart, and He wants you to share in His life. Will you accept this sign?
If this sounds familiar, it’s because I started this Tuesday night but was literally falling asleep while typing on my phone and hit PUBLISH instead of SAVE DRAFT – Yikes! Warning – Never blog while exhausted. Thank you for reading a second time!