A number of the boxes had the words Courage emblazoned on them, a tribute to breast cancer patients and survivors. It brought me back to last year when I saw this little box for the first time. Sometimes it is good to recall stories, to remind ourselves of where we've been and what we've learned.
In June of 2010 I went to Bowen Island, on a retreat like setting to begin my college experience, studying spiritual formation. If I were to be honest, I was excited but terrified; it was a huge step for me to take, but it was an open door, and as doors shut behind me, I felt I needed to move forward and enter the future. I felt fragile; not only had my job just ended, which I mourned for, but I arrived two mornings after my mother-in-law's funeral, and my hubby was also starting a brand new job that very day.
My dear friend had encouraged me to go, and it so happened there was a car that belonged to her on Bowen Island that she requested I drive back to Vernon. For those who know me well, I am not a risk taker, I do not enjoy change; and this was definitely out of my comfort zone. However, it WAS a ride back... and I said of course I would...
The week was wonderful and challenging in so many ways, life changing and stretching... and the car also gave me a few challenges! It had difficulty starting, the tires were low and in question, and in the midst of studying and learning, I found myself looking for solutions to this little car that glared at me from the parking lot, as if to say, you can't do it...
At the end of the week, with my sister's help, we drove through Vancouver, and I was on my own... my brother-in-law checked tires for me and discovered they were quite low, so my imagination and fear were fairly active as I faced the formidable Coquihalla. But before I left, I admired a little angel my sister had on the table, and looked at the bottom, and what should it say, but "Courage". I went on to meet another sister at a restaurant before leaving the Fraser Valley, and wouldn't you know... the restaurant had that very SAME angel figurine on sale. So I bought it and set it beside me.
I got as far as Hope, and had the tires checked again - a kind mechanic topped up the pressure, and said they were again quite low. I took a deep breath, and dropped by the church we used to attend there years ago, and was so happy to see my friend there. I escaped to the bathroom and what should I see? This Kleenex box with the words "Courage" emblazoned on it... I had never seen this before, and I was totally amazed... was God trying to tell me something??
And so I drove the rest of the way home, aware of God's presence, the tires holding me up, and feeling blessed by the gift of courage. I was so touched by how He cared for me personally, I even painted a picture to remind me... but it is easy to re-enter life and forget.
The most amazing thing was when I read in my journal later, and realize that just days before on our retreat, I had written "I looked for courage and I found none"... and there it was. all along. I'm convinced God loves our honesty, and in his gentleness he gave me the gift of courage. It is a daily thing - there for the taking. It is good to remember and reflect and claim it once again.