"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
Okay, thus goes the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.
However, the entries on julieanewell.com are NOT works of fiction...just the facts, sir or madame!
So, although a dark and stormy night caused the damage that set the stage for this entry, the scene is a calm morning, although overcast, with temperature in the 50s...April 18th to be exact!
It was a school day...a Friday, but I had taken a personal day in order to meet with an insurance adjuster, who was to assess the damage to my basement caused by the heavy rains a couple of weeks earlier.
A friend called...knew that I was into reading...had a book she thought I might like for the weekend...offered to drop it off on her way to school, which she did.
Got things "ready" for the insurance adjuster, looked at the clock and saw that I had about a half hour before he was scheduled to arrive. Figured that wasn't enough time to get a good start on the new book, so wondered what to do.
Decided that maybe I would read a few pages of the Bible...
(NOTE: As I related in a previous posting, I do NOT want to embellish "after the fact" events which occur, trying to mold them to fit perfectly into some preconceived or postconceived notion. As I've also said before, since Julie's passing, I have no secrets...am more than willing to share. So what you are about to read is an updated version of an e-mail that I sent at the time to my book-bearing friend. Some editing is required, because my friend had prior knowledge which you, dear reader, do not. In this particular instance, I had told my friend that I HAD finally yielded to my inclination to purchase a Bible...to see what, if anything, it would hold for me. Thus the following reference...)
In my "journey", I am on Book 10 of the Old Testament, which is "2 Samuel". (Actually, last night I asked myself...why in the he...heck am I reading this. All the begetting and begotting, the slaughter of thousands, delivering 100 foreskins to prove something or other...whatever. I thought maybe I should skip ahead to the New Testament...but...once I begin something...)
So, I continued with 2 Samuel...
David decided he wanted Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. I'm sure you know the rest of the story...David sent Uriah out to be killed...which he was. God was NOT happy...told David that he would take his son by Bathsheba. God did indeed smote the child and he lay ill for a week. David falls on his face, fasts and prays for the deliverance of the boy...but the boy dies.
All of this was fine until I reached a sentence where I could "reach" for a sign. When David learns that the child has died, he jumps up, cleans up, and eats up. David's servants are taken aback...asking David why he was so happy after being so downtrodden for the past week. The line that got me...A REAL REACH, something only I would even notice, was David's answer to his servants..."While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
NO...I did NOT take that as a sign that I should "let go" and move on without Julie. The thing I focused on...which was obviously a BIG reach was simply the "Who knows?"...as in Julie's book..."Who Knew?"...and my eulogy that the answer to THAT question was "God Knew".
Again...even I see THAT as LOOKING for a sign, poor desperate Ronnie! Pity the fool...
Have to admit, I teared up...closed the Bible at that point, NOT wanting to show too much emotion to the insurance adjuster. I mean it's only a basement...grown MEN don't cry over ruined carpets...
The insurance adjuster arrived and did his thing and left.
Thought...hmmm...tomorrow is Cairo clean-up day. Maybe I should try pulling the carpet up and have it ready to take to the city dumpster.
As I was trying to decide, the phone rings...another friend, in obvious distress. His daughter has been having some serious health problems. They have been driving back and forth to St. Louis and Cape for treatments. Well, her school calls and says they need to come and get her...she is having severe breathing problems. They rush her to the ER where she is stabilized...and he takes a moment to call me from the hospital waiting room. (Later, I find out that the local doctor eventually released her, scheduling a treatment in St. Louis for Saturday morning at 9 a.m. - if she can make it through the night; if not bring her back to the ER.) As he closed off his conversation, he uttered the all too familiar words "I'm tired." I have been there so often and for so long...
So, I jumped in the car and headed for the hospital.
By the time I got there, they had sent her home with a machine that measures her oxygen level and directions on what to do to get through the night.
As it turned out, the hospital was literally across the highway from his house. When I called him, he came over, picked me up, and took me to his house where we "visited".
TRUE STORY...a worthy follow-up to "Rain"...
I had never told my friend that I bought a BIBLE...or that I had been reading the Bible. My friend and his family are VERY religious, but he has given me my space...offering genuine words of comfort, but never trying to preach or convert.
As we are sitting talking about something...I don't remember what...my friend started talking about David and Saul and Saul trying to kill David (which is out of 1 Samuel). THAT got my attention, but I just sat and listened...didn't say a word. Then my friend says that he can't worry about trying to bring someone back...all he can do is prepare himself to meet them.
Needless to say, I was shocked. This fallen Catholic boy who never opened a Bible, had the pleasure of shocking a devout, Bible-spouting, man of faith. I told my friend "I know what you are talking about...2 Samuel...I was just reading that passage before I came over here!"
End of story...well, THAT part. It gets better...and I have witnesses!
When I return home after visiting my friend and his family, an e-mail awaits...from my book-bearing friend. With editing for confidentiality purposes...
Today in 2nd hour, (a student) says right out of the blue, "Whoa, I just saw a butterfly." I glanced at him sharply as the word butterfly caused a bit of a reaction in me. He said, "You didn't see a purple butterfly?" I just said "Whoa" and backed away and kept on with what I was doing--didn't want to get into signs and portents with (the student).
She added a "PS" to her e-mail to assure me that this was a TRUE STORY.
Well, you loyal readers know about me and butterflies...and you know about Julie's favorite color!
But, I'm still not through...and I have been focusing on circles of late.
At the end of this long and "eventful" day, I decided to begin reading the book that was given to me at the start of the day. Well, THAT produced yet another e-mail from me to my book-bearing, butterfly-witnessing friend...
Yet another "coincidence", if you will...
...and YOU are the "sign" bearer!
If you will recall, shortly before your vicarious "butterfly" experience of Friday, you drove up and handed me a book to read..."A Prisoner of Birth" by Jeffrey Archer.
This was PRIOR to me telling you of my day with my friend...and his relating the story of David...fasting and praying for his son after sleeping with Bathsheba. (Everything I related in my e-mail of Friday evening..."Now for the other stuff".)
Started the Archer book yesterday...continued it today. Went to bed at 8 p.m. and awakened at 10 p.m. Decided to read some more...
Got to Page 120...Danny and Nick go to the chapel. On the next page, Father Dave begins to preach...about murderers. And I quote...
"Now I want you all to turn to the second book of Samuel," continued Dave, "where you'll find a king who was a murderer." ... "Yes, King David was a murderer," said Dave. "He bumped off Uriah the Hittite ..."
As I asked my book-bearing friend...what pray tell are we to make of all of this? How often do you "coincidentally" run across this Biblical passage in a novel...the same weekend you read it in the Bible...and it comes up in a conversation with a friend a few hours later?
And a final footnote...
Accidentally went to the Cairo School District Art Show on May 1st...literally. I don't do art shows! Think I was trying to locate someone to tell or give them something. The gymnasium door was open and so I walked in...and there stood the art teacher, with a big smile, welcoming me to the show. Okay, I may not be into art shows, but I was raised to be polite.
Therefore, I took a tour of the displays...which, in fact, were quite impressive.
When I got toward the end of the displays, I happened to notice the name of the aforementioned student who blurted out in class about seeing purple butterflies.
Immediately crossed my mind...maybe the student had mentioned butterflies because he had drawn or painted some for the art show. So, I just had to stop and look. Nope...no butterflies.
However, as I started to leave, my eyes were drawn to the student's work that was displayed right next to his...
Yep...a big purple butterfly!