The Day We Prayed For Sunshine
Connor’s mom, Lyndsey, had moved up to Olympia, Washington in order to take a specific course in forensics and to spend time with her sister, Ashley and her husband, Jay. She left in August planning to bring Connor out soon after and staying for about nine months, or maybe longer if she liked it. Meanwhile his Grammy, his Auntie Kiki, and I thought up excuses to keep Connor around a little longer; and we managed to do a pretty good job of it.
He was finally scheduled to fly out on Christmas Eve (2003). Connor was in great demand for last-time visits in those days and we would have one day together about a week and a half before his departure.
We scheduled a “sleep over” to extend our visit and awoke to a totally overcast day. We had scheduled a hike at Waterfall Glen, one of our favorite hike spots, but were in no immediate hurry to get out there on such a cloudy day. So we took our time stopping at the store for some snacks, going back to my place to make some hot chocolate, and finally even though it was still cloudy with no sign of clearing, we decided to set out for our hike.
It was about 1:30 in the afternoon when I stopped my car before pulling out of my condo complex.
“Connor, it’s so cloudy, and this is the only day we have together before you leave, and who knows when we will see each other again. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little sunshine? Maybe we should ask Jesus for some sunshine.”
“OK, Papa, you do it.” Came the response from the car seat behind me.
“Dear Jesus,” I said, “You have blessed Connor’s and my relationship so many times. We sure could use some sunshine today for we don’t know when we’ll see each other again. Amen.”
I pulled out on the road and before I reached the next corner I could see a small patch of blue poke its way through the thick gray sky. I made a turn and before I reached the next corner I saw another break in the clouds, this time with a ray of sunshine coming through. I couldn’t believe it. God was really answering our prayer, and so fast.
“Connor,” I said, “Look out your window. Jesus is giving us sunshine.”
“Cool” was Connor’s response.
“We need to go thank him,” I said.
At that time there was a large lifelike manger near a church on our way to our hike spot, so we stopped there first. Connor had fun climbing up amongst the figurines, which were about the same height as he. All the while the clouds parted to let more sunshine through.
We went on our hike that day with an excitement. I always take my camera along, and Connor being my favorite subject, I have many pictures of that day, of Connor with sunshine on his face, and in his heart.
Connor returned to Illinois that following March, a week after my Mother’s death. God must have known that I needed some “Buddy Power” about that time.
On our first morning together Connor stood before my patio door, looking out at a very gray and dreary day, and in a singsong way he says, “Papa Tom, I think we need to ask Jesus for some sunshine.”
To which I assured him that sometimes clouds are good, and maybe Jesus chooses for us to have a cloudy day now and then, and the trees and plants need the rain to live.
“That day we had together before you left for Washington was a pretty special day, and we didn’t know when we’d see each other again.”
But Connor would stand firm and say, “No Papa, just do it.”
So I’d say a little prayer again asking the Lord to shine on our relationship. And would you know, it worked! In fact, as of this writing, we have asked Jesus for sunshine and have received it eighteen out of eighteen times on totally cloudy days.
Well, I’ve tried praying for sunshine once with another friend. We rode our bikes all day in a heavy mist, with a threatening sky all the way. While we both refer to that day as one of our best rides ever, the sun never came out, not even once. It seems to be a miracle given to just Connor and I.
I’d like to make a special note here in reference to Sunshine Miracles #17 and #18:
Sunshine Miracle #17
Connor was visiting for a couple days the summer of 2009. We once again awoke to a day of thick gray and rain. We had some breakfast and Connor said, “Lets go swimming.” To which I responded, “It’s cloudy and rainy. I don’t want to swim in the clouds and rain. I’m strictly a sunshine kind of a swimmer. Let’s do something inside.”
So we watched a few McGyver episodes and had some lunch, when Connor said, “Lets go swimming.” This went on all afternoon. Finally we decided to watch a movie. We both seemed to enjoy the movie and were feeling pretty good afterward when Connor looked up with that grin and said (as if it were the first time), “Lets go swimming.” It was already 6:00 in the evening, with gray sky and drizzle lasting all day, but I could no longer resist that grin.
“Sure,” I said, “I’ll go swimming with you. We’ll swim in the rain and have a blast. But you’ll have to go down and see if the pool attendant is down there. We won’t be able to swim unless he’s there.”
Connor ran down and was back in a flash, yelling, “He’s down there.” (I still can’t figure out why he was down there. They usually close down the pool when it rains), but I said, “Let’s go, I promised.”
It’s less than 50yds from my front door to the pool. As we walked in the rain Connor said, “You know, “I prayed for sunshine,” and ran ahead. Well, this was a no brainer for me. I just said to God, “Let him know that prayer works.” When we got to the pool Connor dove off the side, while I got in the shallow end and started to swim across slowly. As I swam I saw bright golden sunlight appear on the deck to the left of me. It took all of about a minute to reach the other side and I looked up to see a sky that was now a deep azure blue with a couple of small puffy white clouds.
Just at that moment Connor ran across the deck in front of me drenched in water and sunshine, and I said, ”Hey Connor, that’s number seventeen.” To which he just gave me one of those grins that seemed to say, “Well what did you expect, we asked.”
Sunshine Miracle #18
I just got back from a short road trip with my young buddy Connor, and once again God decided to bless us with the gift of a ‘Sunshine Miracle.’ It’s not like sometime during the day the sun came out. It’s like an immediate answer to our prayer; just like it happened on totally cloudy days 17 out of 17 times before.
I had gone out to Canton, MA for Connor’s 5th Grade Graduation into Middle School, and stayed until Father’s Day. We left on Monday morning for a weeklong trip back to Chicago. The weather forecast was for severe storm warnings, straight through for the next four days, all the way across Pennsylvania; but I’d be with my buddy so I knew the sunshine would be shining at least on the inside.
There was a heavy storm during the night from Father’s Day onto early Monday morning. It was one of those storms where everything looked scrubbed clean the next morning. We headed out around 9AM and were blessed with sunshine that whole first day. Connor wanted to swim so we stopped for the day at Promised Land State Park in eastern Pennsylvania. We camped at a site that was a short walk to Bruce Lake and had a good swim. Our evening was perfect with dinner, songs around the campfire, and an episode of Walker Texas Ranger on the laptop before we went to bed.
The next morning was sunny but changed abruptly sometime during our showers at the bathhouse. After about a half hour of reading maps and deciding what to do next, neither of us wanting to hike or set up tents in the rain, we decided to continue heading West on US 80 to try and drive past the rain.
In early afternoon I once again listened to the weather forecast. Again they said severe storm warnings all across the state through Thursday, possibly extending into Friday; and this was only Tuesday. As we drove the rain continued. I thought about our ‘Sunshine Miracles’ but told God that if He wanted to bless us in that way it would have to be Connor’s idea, and so continued to make alternative plans.
At about 1:30 in the afternoon we stopped at a rest area. I said to Connor, “It may just keep raining. Maybe we should keep driving. At least back in Illinois if it’s still raining, there are things we can do indoors.” To which Connor said, “Why don’t we pray for sunshine.” So I asked Connor if he wanted to do the praying.
He said “no,” but that He would follow along as I prayed. So I said a short prayer much like the one I said that first time over six years before, thanking God for our relationship, and to continue to shine His light on us; adding that we could sure use some sunshine today if it be His Will, Amen. As I prayed I could hear Connor quietly repeating my words.
As we pulled back on to the highway I said, “It could be my imagination but doesn’t the sky already appear to be a brighter gray.” Connor, who was playing with his Game Boy in the seat next to me, says nothing, looks up, and then back down. A minute or two later I said, “Connor, look at the chrome on the car ahead of us. Doesn’t it look a little brighter in places, like the sun is trying to come out?” Connor, once again says nothing, looks up from his game, and then back down. A couple more minutes passed and I said, “Connor, look.” Everything we could see now, was covered with a bright golden sunshine, with sharp edged shadows beneath the cars ahead of us. “That’s number 18 out of 18, Connor.” To which he just looked up to the space above his head and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
We told this story to Grandma Mary on our return to Chicago, to which Connor added, “…and the sun stayed out for the next three days.”