It was a warm, sunny day in Sausalito, California. A gentle breeze blowing. The sun caressing my skin as I made my way towards the park located by the San Francisco Bay. There were a crowds sprinkled here and there throughout the park on this fabulous Sunday morning. Most park benches were filled. As I look around trying to figure out where to sit, I feel this nudge within me encouraging me to sit on a wooden bench nearby. The bench was partially occupied by a man who looked like he had not washed in days. I was filled with judgements and a strong resistance.
Within, I was feeling embarrassed by the thoughts I was having. Yet, the inner voice kept nudging me forth. It was subtle and graceful yet firm. Like a magnet drawn to its target, I make my way to the bench. Letting go of resistance, I engaged my curiosity while opening up my heart and mind to see what treasures, if any, I may find.
As I sat there, I looked out at the Bay soaking up the sun and the flurry of activity around me. It was a busy day in the park. Family picnics, children laughing and playing, dogs barking , people lying on the grass relaxing, sailboats on the water ~ a postcard moment. Sitting there on the bench, I glance over to this man sitting at the other end. He is tall. His skin looking like soft weathered leather which seemed to have been kissed by the sun a thousand times. He was wearing a safari hat, a long sleeve plaid shirt, covered by a long, well worn beige trench coat. His pants looked like they had not been washed in days. Within me, the inner voice curious yet judgemental is desiring to know why is he dressed this way on such a gorgeous hot summer day? Why he is wearing all of these layers? Is he smouldering in the heat?
I strum up my inner courage to say hi. There was a gentleness about him that was endearing. As our conversation unfolded over the next hour or so, I discovered he was a really bright man who had been a journalist in his previous life and was well traveled. I discovered that he was instrumental in starting the peace movement at Berkley. I discovered that he was deeply spiritual and philosophical sharing his various thoughts and views on the topics at hand. I discovered he knew the history of how Sausalito came to be on this day.
He did not have a place to call home. The world was his home. He would at times house sit (on boats) and always found a place to lay his head down at night. I , to this day, still do not know what led him to lead a vagabond type life and honestly, it’s not important. My afternoon was delightful and I especially enjoyed the stimulating conversation filled with much insights and information.
Nearing the end of our time together, looking into his dark chocolate brown eyes, I could see, and feel sadness yet also a sense of peace. As I continued to gaze deeply into his eyes, I for the very first time felt the presence and connection to something greater than myself- God perhaps?
This memory is still very fresh for me today (its has been 5 years since that beautiful moment) and a gentle reminder that we are blessed with gifts everyday. The following is a list of the gifts I received that day:
- do not judge a book by its cover for there is always more between the covers to discover and explore;
- trust the nudges for you truly do not know the treasures that lie within them
- we are more alike than we are different;
- this stranger, whom I initially feared and judged, touched and changed my life on levels that continue to reveal themselves to me to this day;
- a touch, a smile, a conversation with a stranger can truly make a difference in one’s life;
- take time daily, if you can, to pay it forward in your fun and creative way. One never truly knows what will make a difference in the life of another. As simple and gracious gesture may make someone’s day!
Will you dare to go out of your comfort zone and make a difference in the life of another?
Invite LOVE to lead the way!