I traveled from Burbank to San Diego for Thanksgiving this year to spend time with family members, some of whom I haven't seen in over two decades. And it was a lovely time. I'm very blessed with a multitude of family members spread across the country.
But I didn't want to drive, so I took the train...Amtrak...which I've never done before.
I've taken the local Metro line in and around Los Angeles, but I never journeyed a lengthy distance on a train.
And I always wanted to - so I did and, of course, the trip proved enlightening.
In more ways than one.
The trip up on Wednesday was nice. I sat with a family of three. A mother and father and their young soccer-loving daughter who, in a recent game, had injured her left thumb, which needed stitches. So she was wearing a cast. We all talked about a lot of topics, and the four-hour time frame passed quickly.
But it was on the Friday trip back to Burbank that entranced me.
It was raining that day, and I wasn't too crazy about that. I didn't want the water to dampen the joyful spirit that increased during my family visit. So, I prayed for a nice ride home.
I had contacted a friend earlier in the week to see if she could pick me up at the train station in Burbank and she agreed. But I soon realized on the train ride home that I wouldn't need to trouble her.
My train from San Diego to Burbank was set to leave at Noon, but I arrived early at the station, around 11:00 AM.
That was okay. I connected with a nice woman in line and she clued me in on train departures, and a little history of the area in the process.
Noon arrived, and we boarded the train. The woman, an older sort, invited me to join her on the first level of the train, marked for seniors and the disabled. "You could pass," she said. "You have gray hair."
I laughed a little at that...very little...but told her I felt uncomfortable with sitting in an area which was meant for the disabled. So, I trekked up to the train's second level. "You should sit on the left side," the older woman told me. "That way, you can see the ocean on the way back to Burbank."
I nodded, but when I arrived on the second level, I opted instead for the right side of the train. I know what the ocean looks like, and I wanted to see the more interesting options on the right side, mostly the different stations along the way....Santa Ana...Anaheim....Fullerton, etc. They all reminded me of Mayberry from "The Andy Griffith Show," so that all suit me just fine.
I had also prayed that Heaven would seat me next to someone that would make the time pass, like it had on the trip up to San Diego.
Ultimately, the train on both levels was not as full as had it had been the Wednesday before. That was okay, I figured. "I'll just sleep all the way."
Within a half-hour, I had found a new friend. The rain had stopped, and a rainbow had appeared...where else...but to the left of the train.
A woman, who appeared to be from India, was seated in front of me. No one was beside me. She turned to me and commented about the rainbow. "Beautiful, isn't it?" she said.
I nodded a little and thought to myself, "But - really - where do rainbows come from? I mean...REALLY come from?"
As if the woman heard my silent thoughts she turned once more to me and said, "Do you know where rainbows come from?"
Shocked at her seemingly reading my mind, I said a simple "No."
She then said something about Noah's Ark from the Bible and I just smiled.
A few minutes later, she showed me a book about a little boy who saw rainbows in Heaven.
I couldn't believe it.
A few minutes later she asked me if I wanted anything from the train's café. I told her, "No, thank you." But she insisted that she bring me something. "My treat!" she said.
"Ok," I replied. "I'll just take a bottled water."
She returned with my water and a sandwich for herself. No one was seated next to her, and since she was so kind and generous, I did not want her to eat her sandwich alone, so I invited her to sit next to me to better enjoy her meal.
As we talked, she shared with me many charming stories of her life in India. One story, about a rainy day from her childhood, stood-out.
She was walking home from school, carrying many books. She loved to read and she loved books very much. And it started to rain very hard. So, she prayed, "Dear Lord - please keep my books dry. Please don't rain on my books."
And as she walked, she said, her path was free from rain. It rained around her, behind her, in front of her and to the sides. But it did not rain on her. When she arrived home, her mother was prepared with blanket to dry her off. But there was no need. "My Lord kept me dry," she said.
Charmed, we continued to talk, and within the next hour or so, she learned that I was a writer. She also decided to pray over my right arm, as I pulled a muscle a few weeks back during the move to my new apartment.
By the time we arrived in Burbank, she had convinced me not to call my friend for a ride home. "MY friend will take you home," she said.
And her friend did so. Her friend also happened to be a dentist - and I am looking for a new dentist in the area, as my previous dentist has his office in my former residence of Cerritos.
So, my new friend, and her friend the Burbank dentist, dropped me right to my door. I was quite grateful for all their kindness, and promised them each a copy of my new book.
The next day, I took a walk to the local pharmacy to get some aspirin for my shoulder, which by then, had been feeling better. But I still felt an occasional, if slight, pain.
As I walked from my apartment door to the CVS, I stopped a few times...as I usually do during any walk...to notice this or that. And by the time I arrived at the pharmacy...a white car drove right in front me.
I wondered, "Could it be?"
It was the same white car belonging to the Burbank dentist, and in a second, my friend, the India woman, who I affectionately now refer to as "The Rainbow Woman," stepped from the vehicle and into the pharmacy.
"Hey!" I smiled to them both. "But do you believe this?"
We all smiled, and chatted a little bit. I left telling my potential new dentist that I will see her soon.
My Rainbow Woman said she would call me.
How could it be, indeed, that I would see these two wonderful new friends at the pharmacy I walked into only the day after they dropped me off train station?
What timing brought us together - and why?
For the learning of where rainbows come from? For the healing of my arm? For the companionship home on the train? For me to have found a much-needed new dentist? For the reminder that Heaven always rides and walks with us wherever we go?
Most likely, all of the "Above."
For it was then I remembered another story The Rainbow Woman had told me while we were still on the train from San Diego. But it wasn't a story from when she was just a child. It was her recounting of a conversation she had with Heaven before she boarded the train.
"Lord," she said she had prayed, "please seat me next do someone I could bear witness to."
I then shared with her that I had prayed the same prayer.