Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Strangers who haunt us

Listen to this post:

Last week, I wrote about serendipitously meeting Rebecca at Whole Foods. Today, I believe that wave of Spirit put me in the path of Amanda and Scott, again, two strangers I encountered while having tea. 

I'd taken my younger daughter to Starbucks enroute to picking up her sister from band practice. I had to be fair, not necessarily by my accounting, since I'd schlepped the older one out earlier in the week for refreshment.

Hadn't but just sat down, when, the man sitting across from me noticed my keycard was the same as his wife's. He wondered if we worked at the same place. No, we just had the same brand of key cards. The conversation got deep very fast as I learned they have 5 sons, one of whom died in his mother's arms, was revived and, later, survived a heart surgery. There were two miscarriages. Amanda, who was also present,though more quietly so, was a stay-at-home mom until Scott found himself out of work. Their roles are reversed. They used to live close to me in Milford, but moved six years ago when busing was cut and they could no longer afford it here.

Once again, death entered the equation. But so did religion, spirituality and faith. We talked about so much distraction in the world when I mentioned I was Quaker and, for the most part, we wait in silence listening for God. That captivated Scott. He is an informal student of religion and open to new ideas. Scott and Amanda actually met at church. He spotted her all in black, beautifully playing the trumpet, when they were both pretty young.

It was a very even exchange of listening and being listened to: a rare gift, especially in the care of complete strangers. But then, were they – really? Scott didn't think so. Upon parting, which we were disinclined to do, he said he had felt not only blessed by the encounter, but certain we were supposed to meet. "Usually, we just get our coffee and go," he said. "But something told me to comment on your keycard; not what I'd normally do."

They both looked me back straight in the eye, which I liked. I think you get soul-to-soul that way. In the same manner I'd get naked-to-naked, skin-to-skin with my kids when they were babies. It's a way I like to connect and the manner in which I recently greeted wounded American soldiers back from Afghanistan. Mostly amputees and those with limited mobility that I think rarely get seen as whole. (link) Looking someone square in the eyes helps me witness their essence, their wholeness.

Scott's eyes told me more than his words. At some point in the conversation, I mentioned how wise they seemed for their ages, mid 30s. That blew Scott away. "Just today, I was praying for wisdom and right here, right now, you just gave me my answer."

How often do we experience this? Perhaps more than we recognize.

Well, they had to be on their way and we soon had to be on ours. We vowed to meet again at Starbucks because we just knew we would. They left ahead of us and as I was packing up, I used the last $10 in my wallet to buy a gift card for them next time they visited. A random act of kindness? A thank you for such instantly deep community? A desire to see them again? Who knows? Only Spirit. 

• When have I felt on a wave of Spirit?
• What was it like?
• What were my experiences?
• Who or what came into my path?
• How did I express gratitude? 

whisking in,
in tow

a quick
coffee break
before retrieving
the older one
from band practice 

about to settle
in on a nice,
hot chai,
when an energetic
stranger asks
me a question

the answer leads
to conversation
and a knowingness
by both parties

that we were not

we, reluctantly,
part company

I return to my drink 

 ... and it is still hot* 

 *homage to my favorite book, the last line, from Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are"

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