I should have been praying to St. Therese when we got caught in that unexpected rainstorm. She, after all, is the patron saint of aviators. In fact, a multitude of miracles have been attributed to her, but perhaps the greatest is that a 24-year old nun from an obscure convent in France, remarkable only for her goodness, would have become known to the world at all. Her holiness so impressed her superiors, however, the unsophisticated young woman was asked to pen an account of her spiritual life.
Upon her death, her Carmelite sisters received permission to distribute “The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieus,” in which she encapsulated her deceptively simple religious philosophy: “Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers he has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay. It is just the same in the world of souls.”
In the ensuing years, her book underwent reprinting on numerous occasions and was translated into dozens of languages. As people around the globe read her words and sought her intercession, reports of favors received through her assistance started pouring in. By the time she was beatified on April 29, 1923, the convent was receiving between 800 to1,000 such letters a day.
The French Carmelite nun, also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus,” remains one of the most widely revered figures of the Roman Catholic Church, and is often represented with an armful of roses to represent her vow to “let fall a shower of roses" on earth from heaven. She told her readers, “My mission—to make God loved—will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” The sudden appearance of roses is usually interpreted by the believer as a sign that a petition asked in Therese’s name coincides with the will of God and will be granted.
While I have nothing again St. Therese (in fact, in my adolescence I changed my name to Therese for about five minutes) I think that prayers should go directly to the top. To that end, I address most of mine to the Father, just as Jesus did, but unlike Jesus, I also look for “signs” that my desires have been approved. Although these have appeared in several physical forms, the most memorable, to me, was the rainbow.
After praying faithfully for five years, I was convinced that God would miraculously compel my estranged husband to give up alcohol, undergo a personality transplant, and return to his rightful place as the head of our family. Somehow, in my grief at the separation, I had lost sight of my ex’s right to free will. The day the divorce become final, I was devastated—there had been no Divine intervention. My lawyer hadn’t even been able to finagle a financial settlement adequate to support the children—I would be forced to work two, sometimes, three, jobs to keep the wolf from the door.As I trudged from the courthouse, however, I caught a glimpse of a stunningly beautiful rainbow. It would take seven years for another rainbow to wrap up the tough days ahead of me. I discovered the second rainbow over the Fern Grotto on Kauai on the afternoon of my wedding to the love of my life.
Well, back to the sudden storm I mentioned earlier. Jon and I were already pretty anxious after having to wait out the fog over Camarillo airport. We knew a serious downpour would be dogging our heels and we wanted to be sipping tropical drinks at the Mirage long before that nasty storm arrived.
A few miles southwest of Daggett, I spied a striking, albeit, totally unexpected rainbow. “I wonder what that’s all about,” I thought to myself. About ten minutes later, we found ourselves flying blind—there was so much precipitation in the atmosphere that although we could see the ground 9,500 feet below, we couldn’t distinguish anything in the inky blackness in front of us. We didn’t know if a mountain or another plane could be lurking dead ahead.
I kept praying we would emerge from the darkness momentarily but it seemed that this maverick rain cell was traveling at exactly the same rate of speed as our Cessna. Finally, I just blurted out, “steer toward the rainbow.” Jon didn’t argue—he must have known that the directive was coming from the Man Upstairs. Within seconds, we were in the clear, and all was right with the world.
The only thing that could make this story even sweeter would be to report that we caught a faint whiff of roses in the cockpit. Of course that didn’t happen. With all those pilots trying to navigate through bad weather that day, St. Therese simply didn’t have any blossoms left.