Letter to Peter: Signs Can be Hard to Spot

23 Dec

This past summer was brutal. Heat waves and humidity bogging down my body into a stupor, and falling to sleep with a dream, a hope that the morning may bring empathy. The city scrambled for refuge in air-conditioned cafes, shaded benches, and darkened theaters. In final desperation, I booked a flight, destined for Boulder, Colorado to see an old friend.

Arriving in the town resting at the base of the Rockies, my heart instantly fell into peace as the cool mountain air brought in the night. One evening, I encountered a young man on a street bench, in crisp slacks and a blazer, plucking harmonious tunes on a guitar that has told many stories. In conversation, I heard the tale of Peter: his strained relationship with his parents, his struggle with deep depression, and his uncertainty of the present.

Our conversation turned to spirituality: He asked, “Are you religious?” My response, “Yes, are you?” “No.”

A long pause ensued as I watched him recall a memory, “At one of my lows, I began to search for a church on a street where I remembered it stood. When I got to the end of the block, the only thing I found was a cemetery.”

I looked at the certainty on his face; to him, this was a sign of the nonexistence of God. “Be careful with what you see as signs.”

In the days following, I was bombarded with stresses, while back in New York my roommates continued the search for affordable living. As the anxiety heightened, I began to see the differences in the way of life of the town that I was visiting and the city in which I inhabit, recognizing living did not have to be bursting with the struggle to survive. With bags packed, boarding the bus, I looked back at my dear friend, and said, “Maybe this is a sign. If everything is falling apart there, maybe it is Christ telling me my place is somewhere else.” Her response was simple, “I recently heard a story of a girl who told a boy to be careful of what he sees as signs.”

With my heart heavy and the reminder of my own advice, I hugged her farewell and boarded the bus. Watching the mountains disappear from view, I began to see more clearly.

Peter, it is not our search for Him when we are despairing, when the circumstances of this world have crumbled at our feet, do we decide to recognize Him. It is the acknowledgment of His presence always, of His constant gift of self in our lives. We do not choose what we see as signs when, with blindness and disparity, we need something to hold. We are to live in reality always, aware and alert to His constant movement in our work, our encounters, our pains, and our joy. His sign is that He is with us now.

Photo of Boulder Colorado by Colleen Pesci

Photo of Boulder Colorado by Colleen Pesci

-Colleen Pesci

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