Mondays — 9:00-11:00 a.m.
That was for me by Sharee Grazda
May 22, 2023
1991. A very rough year. For many people. On many levels.
Our U.S. military entered the Persian Gulf War, known as Operation Desert Storm. I had a teenage son interested in joining the Marine Corps, and I feared for his safety.
An impeccably dressed co-worker came back to the office after lunch with no shoes. She had given her shoes away and walked back in her stocking feet. On the street she met a barefooted friend who asked everyone if they had seen her baby daughter. Overwhelmed with grief from the death of her grown daughter, she was one of many mentally ill on the streets during that time.
After unsuccessfully trying to help an alcoholic husband, my high school sweetheart and father of my three sons, I filed for divorce. We experienced trauma and heartbreak day and night as those long months passed.
On my bus ride home one evening, I observed the passengers taking their places in the handicap seating. A young black man terribly burned. The skin grafts on his face, neck and hands were bubblegum pink and swollen. A mentally disabled young woman with a caregiver. A crippled person with a walker. An elderly blind man carrying a cane and aided by a dog.
“Dear Lord Jesus,” I cried inside, “we desperately need your healing hands now!”
A few days after Christmas, a young woman drove her new car to a car wash near where I worked. She disappeared, her purse and keys inside her car still in the wash bay.
Each weekday as I walked several blocks from the bus stop to my downtown office, I saw her photo on a poster. Her anxious family, friends, and co-workers begged, desperately, “Have you seen this woman?”
By early 1992, things were not looking any better. Stressed at work and at home, I tried hard to balance many heavy loads. They shifted from side to side on my shoulders every day.
Not enough money. No emotional support, not wanting to share with others. Worried what the divorce would do to our sons, and my husband. My head, my heart, my every body part ached with pain.
Prayers for help were constant. “I don’t know what to do. I’m lost. I want to do what is best for everyone. Give me a bright, giant neon sign, please, God! Help me!”
On a cold spring morning, I walked to my office, and passed the poster of the missing young woman. She’s dead, I resignedly thought. It had been months. Poor young woman, so pretty, smart, engaged to be married, with many people who loved her. Gone, her short life ended no doubt by some torturous evil hand.
I passed the newspaper boxes with Desert Storm headlines of more U.S. military killed in action.
“More young people dead, and for what?” I lamented.
Walking with assurance as required on a busy big city street, I presented a put-together, professional appearance. Attractive silk dress, black leather jacket, smart high heels, briefcase at my side.
But, inwardly, my self-talk spoke loudly, “There is just nothing good in this world.”
A few steps after that depressing thought, I walked past one of the dark green, heavy iron trash receptacles which the city maintained.
Straight up in the very center of the bin, 16 inches above the rim, stood a gorgeous purple iris. Its creamy yellow center glistened with droplets of dew.
What in the world is that doing there? A feeling of exasperation and frustration came over me.
Suddenly it hit me.
“That was for me!” I shouted out loud.
Overwhelming joy and elation overtook me as I stopped, turned and grabbed the beautiful stem and clutched it to my heart.
My step turned light and quick as I rushed into my office and told every single person what had happened.
Some say a purple iris denotes royalty and wisdom. In “The Language of Flowers,” the dictionary says the iris represents a message. That is my definition of choice, for indeed that iris was a message.
No bright, giant neon sign I begged to receive. No direct instruction. No vision in the night.
Instead, a gentle reassurance, a quiet reminder, from a lovely single flower standing upright in the trash. There is beauty in the midst of ugliness, goodness in the midst of evil.
My heavenly Father and my dear Brother Jesus understood my pain, my questions, my need.
So then I knew. I knew with 100 percent confidence which I maintain to this day, over 30 years later — that was for me.
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