Early in my childhood, I learned to speak to the pet puffin I adopted as an imaginary friend. And I talked to God. In later childhood, I sadly realized the truth about Puffin, and our conversations ended. But I continued to talk to God. Trouble with Him, however, was, unlike the puffins that played in my imagination, God did not answer.
Still, I continued my one-sided conversation. Years of Catholic school taught us that we could, much like the early television show, make a deal with God. I was naive enough to believe that God really needed me to exchange a week's worth of masses for the prayer flavor of the day or week. Sometimes I got what I wanted, but often I thought it was just serendipitous. Ultimately, I knew that God listens, but I was slower to realize that He answers us in ways we need to learn to understand.
God speaks in silence, and we need to learn to interpret his signs of conversation. A dear friend, colleague, and cancer survivor, Jennifer Piagesi, recently opened a whole new way of understanding God's answers. I was relating to her the really good news about my cancer diagnosis and treatment, and told her that as I entered the room in which I would be seen, the room number was 22. That's my lucky number, and the moment I saw it, I was childishly happy. Jumping for joy, almost. I knew I would be okay; I was just waiting for the doctors' confirmation. Jennifer reminded me that God was talking to me, telling me in advance I would be fine.
For many, this quaint way of thinking seems strange, but I have always been a believer in things beyond what was tangible. In many ways, I suspect I live on and in the spirit and meaning of things, like the philosophy of French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's novella, The Little Prince, one of the best selling books ever published. So, Jennifer's explanation went to my heart. After a lifetime of talking to God, I finally have begun to understand that all those years, He was really listening.