Holiness in our Midst: Session 106

Holiness in our Midst


Story Circle Prompt: Do you receive “postcards from God?” How are they delivered? What are the messages/images?

My practice of looking for “postcards from God” began April 15, 2020, the Wednesday after Easter. It was back in the days when all I worried about was a world-wide pandemic. (I have since added the future of U.S. democracy.) 

I had called into the Ames First Christian Church noontime prayer line. During sharing time, I was touched by a member of the circle who had come across 70 picture postcards while cleaning drawers and had used them to send messages of good cheer while life was at a standstill. After the leader closed with prayer. I found myself spontaneously saying, “P.S., Lord, please send us little postcards from you.” (My real prayer to the Almighty at the time was something like: What in the WORLD are you doing? Where ARE you?”  Hence, I did not expect an answer to my request.)

The next day, sitting at my desk, I looked down at a yellow stickie note. It stood out like a neon sign. My first postcard had been hiding in plain sight. The note preserved a quote I saw in the Chat Box during the Easter Sunday Zoom service three days earlier. Former Pastor David Digby had written: “The dog and I walked in the cool and cleansing rain this morning out at Peterson Pits, a bit after sunrise, and we thought long thoughts about Resurrection and eternity and love, and the rain baptized us both with Easter and hope. It was good.” 

More than a year later, I have opened a whole file cabinet in my brain and an actual file on my computer to store all the postcards I have received. My definition of “postcards from God” has become “visual images so moving that I want to frame them or word pictures so strong that they leave a lasting impression.” Receiving them changed my prayer stance from chronic complainer to active recorder of ways God is communicating with me!

Here are some postcards from my “collection”:

In the early evening on Earth Day 2020, the weather vacillated between sunshiny and rainy on a “joy drive” through the countryside. Rainbow conditions, for sure. As I alternately drove through fields of sunbeams, windows down, and sheets of rain, I was conscious of many glorious picture postcards from God. A weathered shed shrouded in swirling clouds. A farmstead on a hill, its two-story house, barns, poplar windbreak and silo silhouetted against the setting sun. A patchwork quilt of fields as far as my eye could see. To do justice to the memory of the images that day, there would have to be a scratch and sniff feature to capture that fragrance of just-planted Iowa black earth when the rain settles the dust. (My Scrabble-playing friends know that this is called petrichor.) Driving past the farm I grew up on near the town of Fernald, I hinted to God that a rainbow over it just then would be a fine touch, a perfect postcard, but no. For the record, a double rainbow hung over my apartment building and adjacent field as I pulled into my parking lot that evening. For real!


A few days later my friend Tony, a geriatric social worker from suburban Chicago, sent his latest round of e-mail photos from woodland trails. He is a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi. Even on his bike, wildlife likes and trusts him, even follows him around. I began categorizing his visual images and word pictures of snapping turtles, salamanders, bald eagles and great blue herons as “postcards from God.” One morning after his sister Debra passed away in October, he woke up early, thinking of her. Along his walking path that morning was a doe with four fawns. 


Around this time, I stopped in at Casey’s on Lincoln Highway in Nevada for my daily papers and treats. Meghin, the associate on duty, was sitting down at her cash register station. “He likes breadsticks,” she said, pointing to her tummy. “Are you eating for two?” I asked, though I could see the answer. She volunteered that she had gotten a sonogram of her ultrasound earlier that day and wondered if I would like to see it. “Yes, of course!” The thought, “postcard from God,” flashed through my mind as I got my first glimpse of little Alexzander (yes, spelled with a z), who already had dark locks of hair. Alex appeared in person on June 17, 2020. Though I have never actually met him, I have followed his visits to grandpa and his attempts to fly before he walked on Mehgin’s iPhone, each image a precious postcard in an ongoing series. In one memorable video, in a front-facing baby carrier, he is kicking and squealing at the fish in the aquarium at Blank Park Zoo. (I just saw pictures from his first birthday party.)


The daily lives of my family members are also a source of holy postcards. An example: the photo my younger sister Jill of the Denver suburbs sent from Mother’s Day 2020. There she was surrounded by her grandchildren with their gift of a clay flowerpot decorated with butterflies and flowers created from their handprints and footprints. Another postcard was from my older sister Janet, who lives in an assisted living center in Dallas Center. In vivid detail, she described a group effort to create a dazzling display of 100 hearts in all colors and sizes to surprise a resident on her hundredth birthday.


For a couple weeks in June of 2020, a row of poster-sized photos of the Nevada High School Class of 2020 was attached to the south side of the school’s chain link fence baseball diamond. More like a banner than a postcard, the grouping withstood all sorts of weather. More than once, I wondered if this class was set apart by God for something special, uniquely strengthened from the bond formed by COVID-19 hardships. Time will tell. 


In the early evening after the derecho on Aug. 10, 2020, my neighbors and I assessed the damage on our street. We were accompanied by the only living being grateful for the storm: Ryder, our apartment building German Shepherd, named after the trucking company. Because she lives to pick up sticks, she had already amassed enough for a bonfire on our lawn. A postcard image is etched in my mind from that walk: Ryder smiling at me while holding a stick in her mouth. Heaven for her is an eternal game of fetch.


On Dec. 21, 2020, I bundled up in the late evening to behold the brilliant light, the “Star of Bethlehem,” from the once-in-800-years alignment of Jupiter and Saturn and pronounced it a “postcard from God.”


Still, in 2021, the postcards keep coming, not every day, but often enough to help me realize that there is an abiding order to the Universe. I often think back to the most dramatic postcard I received. On April 17, 2020, just two days after becoming conscious of the concept. I entered the kitchen at my workplace, Windsor Manor Assisted Living Center in Nevada. I was given permission to visit a resident named Bill in his final hours. As I sat on a chair holding his hand and saying my good-byes, I was aware only of his shallow breathing and a big colorful sign outside his window, which read WELCOME HOME. The thought, “postcard from God,” crossed my mind as I took time to thank him for being so kind to me in my role as culinary server. On my day off, Bill had returned from the hospital, and his friends had put the sign outside his window to welcome him back to his room. But the message was also visible as he was passing. I was able to suggest to the family, as a comfort, that perhaps it was no coincidence the sign was still in place as he crossed over to his Heavenly Home.


  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: Have you ever received “postcards” from God? What were the images or messages?

      1.   Read aloud Session CVI.

      2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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