She was dirty.
She was homeless.
My friend saw her in the parking lot. She wanted to reach out to this ragged woman, but groceries got in the way.
“Hold on a sec,” my friend said. But when she turned around the woman was already talking to someone else.
When she was done talking, the dirty, ragged woman returned to my friend. My friend reached for her wallet, but, instead the woman asked for a hug.
My friend hesitated, but obliged.
What happened, next, my friend said, changed her completely.
The woman prayed a quiet quick prayer for my friend. Moved by the experience, my friend asked her newfound friend her name.
“Jesus,” she said.
“Is your name really Jesus?” my friend asked.
“That’s what they tell me.”
This is one of those small moments in life, that, if we aren’t paying attention, can escape us. Or maybe they don’t so much escape as much as we don’t really understand their depth. But really, it’s these small, deep moments that can radically change us.
We think we are in a particular place or moment for a particular reason. Then God does a whammy on us and gives us a gift we didn’t even ask for.
What was my friends gift in this situation? I couldn’t even begin to imagine. But I can tell you the gift I got in her recounting it: that when I think I am the one doing the giving, I am the one who is actually doing the receiving.
What I also learned is that things are not always what they seem; that people are put in our lives for a few minutes, or for a few decades. And that one is not more important than the other. I suppose what’s important is what we do with that that encounter.
What encounters have had a profound effect on your life?