A Story About Awe

Happy Monday!

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m fully aware that my current level of exuberance is really not appropriate for a Monday morning. But I had a good weekend and I’m excited about the possibilities for the week… and I just can’t seem to help myself. Feel free to substitute some kind of low, sad voice for mine in your head to counteract all the upbeat words I’m about to use. 

I have a story for you all. Just a snapshot, really, of the cool things God has been doing in my life. Pull up a carpet square and settle in for a few minutes. Here we go: 

I had a lunch date with a friend last week at Midtown Global Market. I can’t drive so I had to take the bus. And I had the best night of sleep ever the night before so I woke up too late to make coffee at home. These two factors conspired to put me at the market 25 minutes early. I got a coffee and a table and pulled out John Green’s Looking for Alaska.

Then a man came up with a tray and asked if he could sit at my table. Even though…yep, there were tons of empty tables all around us. I’m both a Minnesotan (ahem, polite) and a Moss (ahem, hostess genes) so my mouth said “yes” before my brain even had a chance to fully process whether that was a good idea. Something that has gotten me into some “interesting” situations in the past. In this case the man was older and disheveled. So I was prepared for this to be a potentially uncomfortable brush with crazy.

As I quickly pulled together the proper mental framework for this encounter, one of the many things that flitted through my mind was something a friend said recently about a homeless girl he met. He commented on how people avoided her instead of seeing her as a human being with inherent value. This comment kept playing in my head when the man who had crashed my table started to speak to me. I looked him in the eyes and tried to be both fully present and nonjudgemental.

What unfolded over the next 20 minutes between the two of us was one of the most honest conversations I’ve had in weeks. He’d been in the hospital recently for some serious health things and he’s up here away from his family and support system. At one point he looked at me and said “I feel like you’re a person who can understand how it feels, you know, when you’re limited. When God blesses you with something and then for a while you can’t do it anymore. How that feels.” At this point I hadn’t told him about my seizures (although I did later). That just floored me.

We ended up talking about everything from music (he played the piano professionally all his life…and agreed after a palm-to-palm comparison of our hands that my fingers are too short to ever successfully learn to play guitar…) to church to how God gives us just the right people to listen when we need them. I felt both blessed by and perfectly used during our conversation. I left floating on a cloud of awesome.

I also left that conversation with an amused smile because he told me he wished he’d read his horoscope that morning because it must have said he’d “Meet and fall in love with a beautiful white girl young enough to be his daughter.” To which I responded, “So, do you have a daughter?” You have to love old men. Everything that would be horribly creepy coming from someone our age sounds roughish and endearingly charming coming from them.

But wait! That’s not all. After my lunch with my friend, I got on a very crowded bus to go home. I had my book out and my face buried in it, but the man beside me ignored all social cues and insisted on talking to me. So I put my book away and let him. He proceeded to tell me about how he feels about riding the bus, some interesting stories from the very eclectic jobs he’s had, and about the mental breakdown slash depressive episode he had once.

He clearly just wanted someone to listen to him. Throughout our rather one-sided conversation, he maintained almost constant eye contact as if he were afraid that if he released my gaze, I would return to my book and refuse to reengage. Twenty five minutes later, we came to my stop. I shook his hand and told him maybe I’d see him again sometime. He grinned and I hopped off the bus (literally hopped… because I felt just that happy).

One of my favorite things in the entire Bible is Acts 2:42-47 (re: the fellowship of the believers). I love the image it paints globally of close community, but also the words it uses to describe the state of the hearts of the believers. Simply devoted, easily awed, glad, generous, continually praising. There’s a specific line that I kept thinking of that afternoon as I reflected on how joyful these two encounters made me: “And awe came upon every soul…”

I love that despite everything–all the information I have, how much I dissect and analyze things, every bad thing that I’ve ever seen or experienced that should make me jaded–God can so easily awe me by arranging a simple conversation. And that he cares enough to do so. That in the middle of all my tumultuous thoughts about the future, God so often says, “Here, look at this awesome thing that’s here right now.”

Also, while not being able to drive is easily in the top five things that cause me the most angst (I find it physically painful in some cases to have to ask people for rides over and over and over and…just shoot me now…over again), I can’t help but observe that neither of these connections would have been possible if I weren’t currently a bus rider.

That’s it. End of story. God did all of that in the span of four hours last week, so you can understand why I’m so excited to see what might happen in the full seven days ahead! Happy Monday friends.

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