Star Certified

starI was praying on the freeway, as I often do, driving to work. The trees lining the road held me like the walls of a church. I traveled up “the aisle,” remembering the day I met Jesus in Communion at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Why did this tree-lined freeway remind me of that unforgettable day?

The cars processed up the lanes, bumper-to-bumper to our destinations where we would be perhaps blessed, broken, and shared.

I resisted the urge to put on the radio and dwelled instead on the first few words of the Our Father: hallowed be thy name. I spent several miles praising the one who made me. Hallowed be thy name.My mind then turned to questions I had for God: What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Where do you want me to be? Who do you want me to be? What activities should I pursue, and which should I let go?I struggled with many thoughts, recalled broken relationships, and wondered if I had enough time to get to my 7 a.m. appointment. I was meeting a woman to discuss starting a new ministry at our parish. Should I instead be focusing on helping those on this earth who are most poor? I sought answers. And I only seemed to have ongoing questions.

Before I knew it, I was at my off-ramp.

How privileged am I to own this car and sip a hot cup of coffee, when half a world away a woman walks miles for water she needs to boil before she can even take a safe sip.As I drove up the street, a muffler-shop marquee caught my eye. I read, “Stay Centered.” I breathed deeply and smiled, thinking what a great message to put on a sign in front of an auto repair shop. Who put it there and why? It seemed plausible that some prayerful business owner put that sign there to encourage passersby. It was the message that helped me breathe easier about all my questions. Stay centered.As the light turned green and I drove closer, the words came into focus. They actually said, “Star Certified.”

I laughed out loud, having seen what I needed to see, as if some movie special effects were playing tricks on me. And yet, I knew that was a divine invitation for me that day. When chaos seems to reign and confusion appears the only constant, I am invited to stay centered, remembering God is at the center of everything. Wisdom is found in that center.

Who says that God can’t find the most unexpected ways to reach us? Where have you been surprised by grace?


  1. I could have written that reflection. It is exactly the kinds of questions I find myself asking God. I just haven’t had an answer until your article. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Loretta, for extracting a meaningful message out of myopia! 🙂 Your insightful account is sort of an Emmaus experience in reverse. There, the disciples on the road were walking with a man, but didn’t see who He really was until later. Driving on your road, you had eyes to see God’s message, though you didn’t see what the letters on the sign really were until later. I have enjoyed all of your bloggings so far!

  3. Gratitude and Presence seem to be the portals for our awareness of Grace. So well written Loretta! Could totally relate to the “Star Certified” incident. We see what we need to see! Keep up your inspiring message.

  4. I love how you saw what you needed to see in the muffler-shop sign. This is a lovely story about how to make a simple drive to work a real meditation. Thank you.

  5. Hi Loretta, So happy to read your comments on how God touches our lives. Star Certified was wonderful. It was a gift from God that you read Stay Centered. I wonder how many times I’ve misread things. I think God’s message to me is Pay Attention. Thank you for pointing this out to me. DD

  6. Loretta this story reminds of the day I was in Wal Mart and felt the presence of someone between the washcloths and the soap! Then turned and saw no one there, but then felt God pick me up and hold me, physically and mentally. I knew that whatever happened I was going to be okay, I was waiting from a call from a doctor to let me know what my biopsy showed. Thirty minutes later I was diagnosed with cancer, but I felt the presence of God through the caring doctor’s voice. Thanks so much for sharing. Chris

    • Wash cloths and soap!
      Reminds me of a song: Washerwoman God: we know you in the waters…if you didn’t clean the mess, where would we be?
      May God’s healing cleanse you.

  7. Loretta,
    Your beautiful story reminded me that in order for our Lord to work in us we must always have our eyes and ears open to see the signs and miracles placed in our paths every day. Please continue to write and share your talent with us.

  8. Dear Loretta, “Surprised by grace” is such a lovely phrase! Thank you for the prayerful yet humorous way you invite us into God’s presence. I look forward to your postings. Theresa

  9. Thank you for this wonderful reminder that questions, taken in and held in grace is enough — enough to focus my intentions and take steps in faith. I have daily invitations to reflect on life from a divine perspective. But I need reminders, like your story, to sit long enough with the thought, question, or feeling and bring that grace into my day-to-day life. Thank you for you ‘star certified’ and thank you for the coffee.

    • Thank you, Yvonne. And may your car be your church as well. I pray for you and the others in line with us, whether processing to communion or bumper to bumper on the road.

  10. Thank you, Tom, for sharing your thoughts so personally and so helpfully to me. All is gift. . All is grace. I think I’ll quote you today on that.

  11. Thank you for taking me along on your morning ride. It was a guided meditation I really needed today. Here it is noon, and somewhere between my morning meditation and now I’m about as un-centered as my old ’67 VW after I hit that curb going 45 mph. You helped me recognize that when I’m rightly focused, I can slip in and out of deep awareness effortlessly, with every passing tree-lined road, attempt at prayer, stray thought or random memory opening my consciousness to Divine consciousness. It’s then that I know that all is gift, all is grace, who I am and what I have are enough. Grateful.


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