blow wind, blow...
Last night I found myself on a park bench on the Beverly common. I was sweating out my upcoming teaching and muttering a few prayers. There was a group of local toughs sitting on the art college steps right behind me, greeting one another with their 'fuck yous' and gleefully haranguing each car that drove down the adjacent street. Suprisingly, they said nothing to me. Perhaps they considered a geek sitting alone with buechner in one hand and the bible in the other too easy of a target.
Anyway, as I sat on the bench I was thankful for the relative peace as well as the autumn twinged august breeze that was drifting through the park. As I was putting my holy books into my satchel and preparing to walk to church I saw a lady walking down the brick path towards me. She was thin, middle-aged and, by all appearances, homeless, though she seemed fairly well put together. In that moment, either the wind or the Spirit (even the Apostles had difficulty distinguishing between the two) seemed to suggest that she needed direction. I reflexively suppressed the voice, as I am wont to do, but as the woman shuffled closer I saw her eyes lift expectantly and she prepared herself to speak. 'I'll be damned,' I thought. Maybe there was substance to that voice after all. I gradually made eye contact with her and softly smiled so as to welcome her approach. Perhaps this will be an instance in which God provides an opportunity for me to see the power of the gospel at work, I thought. These moments never happen to me on airplanes, but perhaps it could happen on the common.
After five seconds of real time, but fifteen minutes worth of internal monologue, she asked me if the library was open. I told her that it was and would remain so until nine o'clock. She exhaled quickly and told me that 'I have to pee like crazy.' I walked about fifteen yards towards the library with her, told her where the john was and went on my way.
Obviously our conversation defied my expectations and the direction she needed was quite different from that which I was prepared to give. And yet, I am thankful for that brief encounter, for it reminded me yet again of my need to receive people as well as my desire to help guide them along the way. In the end, I can't help but wonder whether pointing her to the john was just as important as pointing her to Jesus.
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