Wednesday, December 16, 2015

     Yesterday, a young woman and her mother came into my life. I had never met either of them, but the experience of this meeting resonates with me at 3:48 a.m. as I write. They were strangers until I spent almost two hours with them in a coffee shop downtown. It is important to note that I had tried to meet with them a couple of weeks ago, but they didn’t show up for reasons I didn’t understand until yesterday. I waited that first time almost an hour and was annoyed that I had wasted my time to the point that I no longer intended to pursue the contact. After the daughter texted me a couple of times asking my forgiveness and pleading for another chance, I relented. Maybe it’s the season, but something drew me to that plea. 

     Several red flags and an honest look at my own self-talk contributed to my reluctance
and my follow-through. First, the daughter indicated that she didn’t drive and that she had to rely on her brother for transportation. He had just gotten out of rehab. Secondly, the young woman is from an island about which I know nothing, so I had to ask myself if the combination of the brother’s issues and their culture was giving me pause. Finally, the fact that the texts were not very mature-sounding, even somewhat child-like, I asked myself why I was even contemplating this meeting. Considering myself open-minded, unprejudiced and forgiving, I agreed to a second effort, telling her that I would only wait 15 minutes, as I had other appointments.

    I got there yesterday with all of these thoughts floating around in my head. When she was not there 11 minutes after our designated time, I sent her a text to ask how far away she was. Long story short, she showed up 30 minutes late. 

     When she walked in the door with her Mom, I instantly softened. First, because they showed up, and I thought, “Ok. This is legitimate.” Secondly, they seemed eager to tell me their story, and finally, their warm smiles reeled me in.

     My first question after telling me that their transportation issue was not working for me was, “What is it that you are hoping to accomplish?” After the daughter told me she was 20 years old and working to finish her GED, I listened to a fascinating tale of innocence and tragedy. In the two hours we spent together, I got a glimpse of a world unknown to me, and I found myself marveling at the strength and determination of these two women who were ready to offer me a role in realizing their purpose. We embraced when we left each other, and I was filled with a sense of magic and wonder—why had these two women come into my life, and how would their story affect me going forward?

     I cannot divulge the exact nature of their story, but what I have learned over time is that sometimes strangers walk into our lives for a reason. As banal as that may sound, it’s true. In this case, their story gives me purpose. I may have an opportunity to help a young woman realize a dream, however unrealistic it may seem to me. I may be one catalyst to her finding the next person to carry her closer to her purpose. Or, I may never see her again. The point is, she gave me pause about my own purpose. What am I doing in my life to really help others? I volunteer for several organizations where I give my time, my energy, my creative thoughts, but I am not really helping anyone. Here is a chance to do that in the context of what I do best: teach.