Friday, April 27, 2012

Angels Among Us

     There I was stuck on a weekend retreat with a grouping of friends. I thought this was supposed to be a minor amount of people and it grew three times larger in size. It was Saturday night and after spending the day lounging on the beach it was time to head back to the rental property. The barbecue was fired up and people were chugging down beers, seemingly getting obnoxious. I engaged in conversations, casually working my way towards my duffel bag, hoping to grab my clothes and take a quick shower. It wasn’t long before I realized both bathrooms were occupied and appeared to have a waiting list.
    I decidedly opted for the outdoor shower, why not; this is what you do on a sunny day at the coast. My mind was made up, I was going to get clean and head out. I’ve never been the type to enjoy overcrowded accommodations. I barely had time to get the sand out of…well, let’s say my suit when a drunken man haphazardly swung open the wooden shower door. I stood naked, water still pouring over me, noticing we both hadn’t moved. I was frozen in time and space, thinking he was the one holding the door, shouldn’t he shut it? He uttered, “Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t realize you were in here.”
     Okay, it was only a minute, but it felt like hours as he stared at me. I was too busy processing, clothes and brightly colored beach towel hanging over the door, water running, he could easily see my feet below on the other side. Lost and buried somewhere deep inside, I thought I heard him say, “Wow, it’s kind of cool. I didn’t know this is really interesting, but strange.”  My eyes bulging out of my head might have been the indicator that perhaps, he should close the door! He finally did and I expeditiously threw my clothes on. I had always kept my identity a secret and figured this wasn’t going to be a cozy coming out party.
     Once again I worked my way through the crowd and caught slack from a particular person, whose name isn’t worth a mention here. I called my dog and we casually disappeared as I drove off around dusk. What I haven’t mentioned thus far is this was a difficult time on the journey of life for me. One thing after another seemed to be going wrong. This was the icing on the cake of a painfully challenging month indeed. Painful memories of prior negative and hurtful conversations swirled around in my mind. I was screaming to be free, whole, and peaceful. I had felt alone; you know this loneliness, the type even when you’re in a crowded room.
     In my angst, I had forgotten, I desperately needed fuel with the two hour ride out ahead of me. I’d already pulled onto the parkway and several exits down thought it best to stop before the long stretch where there wasn’t really a safe place to stop. I took an exit and aimlessly pulled into the filling station. I began digging around inside my bag looking for my money, when I heard a man’s voice speak to me. I was startled and looked out my side window to find an elderly African American man comfortably leaning inside the frame of my opened window. He was petting my dog as he began to say, “You mustn’t worry yourself. These people’s opinions don’t define who you are. You’re perfect exactly the way you’ve been made. You’re not alone on this journey. I know you feel hurt, scared, and concerned for yourself. God hasn’t forsaken you, we know who you are and why you’re here, that’s all that really matters.”
     Tears were spilling down my cheeks as I shared with him my sorrow and pain. I couldn’t stop conveying my sadness in regards to people’s limited belief systems. I told him, “I feel people have their own fears and insecurities that they impose upon others.” I drove home my willingness to try and make a significant difference in this world. I decided in that very moment, it didn’t have to be so complicated. He reminded me how life was meant to be simple. He graciously said, “You matter, and your light shines bright.”
     He kissed my cheek and wiped the tears from my eyes. I suddenly felt peace emanating through my body. It was as if I could finally take a cleansing breath. The tension in my body was gone and I heaved a sigh, sitting there in a trance-like state. Suddenly it dawned on me, I still needed to get fuel, even though I felt like my energy was so positively charged, it could fill my car. I turned to him and smiled saying, “Could you give me twenty dollars’ worth please?”
     He grinned advising me, he’d already taken care of it. I held up my money and he waved his arm, suggesting I not even worry about it. I thanked him profusely as I restarted my engine, watching the gauge reveal a full tank. I thought how cool is this guy, what an incredibly loving, thoughtful, intuitive individual. I slowly pulled forward preparing to exit the station, when something made me check my rear view mirror. I looked up and couldn’t find him. I looked around, wanting one last impression of this inspiring man. I couldn’t see him anywhere. Suddenly, I looked at the small building of this mom and pop type station and the sign said closed. 
     The building was completely vacant. I happen to glance at the sign and realized it was rusted and had no prices posted. The place was absolutely baron. I pulled back onto the road and looked out ahead at the beautiful orange colored sun setting on the horizon. I always knew Angels were among us, it was such an amazing blessing as an adult to encounter another one in this lifetime. As I turned on my headlights, I recognized they would not be the only beam of light coming from my vehicle as I headed back home to what I used to perceive as my home. Now I really understand that my home is in my heart.

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