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One day in New York I was in a bad mood while crossing a small park. It was raining. Suddenly I looked up. In wonder I saw, silhouetted against a gray sky, a tree with long, slender black pods that looked like calligraphic writing.

Think of small moments in your life that had energy — that made you feel alive. Make a list of [at least five], Set your timer for [10] minutes, choose one, and go.

— from The Playful way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen

* * * * *

It was hard to come up with small things like Allen referred to in her example. I know there have been many of them, but my memory isn’t trained to remember them when they happen. These are the best I could come up with:

1. A strange light shining on the mountain at the retreat house late one night.
2. Our 43rd anniversary dinner at Olive Garden.
3. Hearing our son Bran sing his senior project in high school.
4. Watching Lord Drollery and both of our kiddos pose together when they all three graduated from Weber State at the same time.
5. Having someone write a poem about me.

* * * * *

Our Lady 1

Our Lady of the Mountains Retreat House.

It was late, around 10:30. The committee and I had just finished decorating the sanctuary for the morning’s worship service in the little chapel at the retreat house. I finished gathering up unused decorations and was carrying them out to the car. Unlocking the heavy wooden door I stepped out onto the porch and what I saw knocked the stuffin’s out of me. The whole side of the mountain was lit up like a spotlight was shining on it. It took my breath away. I looked everywhere, but could see nothing that would light the mountain up like that. Couldn’t even see the moon, so I knew it wasn’t natural.

Thinking I was just tired and imagining it, I went back inside and found Claire still in the chapel. It was during compline when we were not supposed to talk, so I grabbed her arm and pulled her into the entry way and outside the front door. She was as amazed as I was.

Mt. Ogden

The mountain above the retreat house the light was shining on.

We walked a ways up the grounds to see if we could see any spotlights from town that might be resting on Mt. Ogden, but we couldn’t see a thing. The side of that mountain was bright as day in a clear, pure white light. We stood watching for ten minutes or so, but nothing changed. Finally we put the stuff in my trunk and went back inside to settle in for the night.

I’ve never forgotten that unexpected vision. It almost felt like a smile. I was glad Claire and I had had the moment together. We had worked together on the retreat for ten years, and I think we both felt like God was saying “Well done!”

I scoured the papers the next two days to find an answer to the mystery, but there was nothing. To this day we don’t know where that light came from or how it managed to light up just the part of the hillside above the retreat house. It remains a beautiful little miracle that Claire and I will always share.