October 3, 2016

Hope: Sometimes God uses four-leaf clovers

I have a collection of four-leaf clovers in my wallet.  They lay pressed in a little beat up white envelope next to old passport photos, sandwiched between appointment cards and my cell phone...I keep them there to remind me that I have hope.

They say that there is something lucky, something special, about finding such a rare little specimen.

I remember when I stumbled across my first one.  It was my first year of college; a difficult year.  I had recently ended a bad relationship, was struggling with depression, and had sunk to a very dark place.  Growing accustomed to life in the city was taking its toll as well since it seemed all of Seattle was covered in cement, with nary a section of wild earth anywhere.  Trudging up those hills, your eyes would be level with the sidewalk a few feet in front of you...nothing but grey concrete and grey sky.  I was having a particularly rough day when walking home, up those steep hills, I saw a clump of wild green.  There nestled among the foliage growing out of a crack in the sidewalk...there grew a four-leaf clover.  It was at the intersection of W Florentia and 1st W.

It was a glimmer of hope.  A ray of wild happiness in the concrete world that was my physical and emotional reality.  In that moment, I felt like God had placed it there for me...like a perfect, rare gift.  The school year went on, and each week I would walk home to four-leaf clover springing up in my path.  Not that I ever looked for one, truly.   It became so common that I stopped saving them or gave them away, but each one was a reminder.  Pointing me to the hope that the clouds of depression, utter grey numbness would break.  And one day, they did.  I laughed.  I don't even remember why, but I remember laughing and it feeling so foreign, so wonderfully strange.  Those dozens of four-leaf clovers...wild earth separate from the cultivated gardens and yards of Seattle greenery...I had no doubt they were from God, a reminder to have hope...such a coincidence to discover one every week?...to see them even when not looking for one at all...I don't believe in coincidences.

Last September, I was processing losing Graham.  James and I were on one of many wanderings through the park, and we settled in the gravel batting cages to chuck rocks at the backstop.  There was a clump of clover, and I briefly glanced through...whispering to God that I could really use some hope that day...whispering that the clutching pain of missing Graham would subside ever so slightly if I just had some sort of sign.  Nothing was there.  Just a little patch of ordinary white clover.  Disappointed, I turned back to throwing rocks, chiding myself for even thinking one could be there.  The voice of my friend, a biology major, came back to me: if a plant with the four-leaf clover mutation is in one area, it is likely to produce more of the same four-leaf clovers - science not God, Susan.  So I mulled that over in my mind thinking, maybe she's right.  Maybe it wasn't God sending me those little specimens all those years ago.  Maybe it was just a scientific phenomenon spreading throughout that neighborhood in Seattle.

Doubt clouding my memories of each surprise clover, I stood up to get James, who had taken his rock throwing to the grass.  As I turned, my toe brushed a patch of clover behind me.  A four-leaf clover peeked out at me.  In utter shock, I bent down to pluck it up.  Yes.  It was what I thought.  A perfect four-leaf clover.  I stood in utter silence.  It had been there the entire time, right behind me.  I had given up finding one; stopped the search for hope that the agony of missing my dead son would ease ever so slightly that day.  It was only then that it found me.  Only then did I see it.  My heart felt like it stopped, and into my mind flickered the thought - I like science, but it was, it is God.  I gently tucked it into my back pocket and let my mind wander - God maybe you can use four-leaf clovers.

So call it what you will: coincidence, science, fate, the universe, I call it God - and each time a four-leaf clover finds me (which is quite rare these days) I see it as a reminder of hope.  It's something we could all use more of in this broken, crazy, twisted world; I know that for a fact.  

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