This was my verse for the day:
"The Lord is faithful in all He says; He is gracious in all He does. The Lord helps the fallen and lifts up those bent beneath their loads."
-Psalm 145:13-14 NLT
Our guests arrived around three in the afternoon on Saturday. The fellow was a gangly farm boy with a baseball cap, large glasses and a wide smile. He rarely spoke, but watched everything quietly.
I was much more interested in his woman. She was older; her face had that faintly worn look of someone in middle age and her hands were roughened. Her hair was thick, tauny and long, and her eyes were large and shy.
Right away I noticed that she had the same quality of social awkwardness as myself. It wasn't glaring; in her case, it was as though she were somewhat off beat- her conversation moved unexpectedly between untaught directness and shyness.
As for myself, I tried to remain in the moment, and not rush on to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing, in the hopes of pushing time along faster, so that I could get through it as fast as possible.
I kept taking deep, slow breaths and settling myself back into the conversation and the setting. It was much more peaceful that way and I was able to even enjoy some of the socializing.
When we were in the kitchen, her demeanor changed. There is something about being in a kitchen, I have noticed, that causes most women to open up. The quiet ones will get chatty and the chatty ones will go nonstop.
This whole time I had been listening with one ear for the voice of Jesus. It's as though I have one foot in what I can see is happening, and one foot somewhere else. I do this because otherwise, I tend to judge and catagorize the people I meet according to my own expectations and understanding, which is incredibly limited.
I'm constantly reminding myself that this person I'm speaking to is a beloved daughter of God- His own creation, with a history and scars and knowledge and experience very different from my own. I don't know her story, so I don't know who she really is. But what I can always know, is that she is beloved of God, as we all are.
So, I was in the kitchen slicing up tomatoes, and I leaned back into Jesus yet again, in order to ground myself, and He whispered to me, Here is another little girl.
He meant, another little girl like myself- someone who survived the ravages of their childhood.
It was true, too. Little pieces of her childhood kept dropping into the conversation, which was becoming more unconventional, as we became more comfortable being ourselves.
I've rarely had such a connection with another person in the same way. It amazed me, looking back, to notice how much of my inner self I had revealed. It wasn't so much what we were saying, it was how we were being.
My conversation with my guest had been full of emotion, vulnerablity and authenticity, no matter what topic we had been discussing. Any other person would have found it strange, with the long, quiet pauses and palpable emotion.
I kept leaning into Jesus and listening, during my conversations with her. Maybe times I wanted to talk about Him with her, but not as though to evangelize- it was perfectly obvious, even with my limited perception, that she was His girl. I wanted to talk about Him simply because I wanted to share my delight in Him, but we didn't have enough time to get to that level of sharing.
It came up once, briefly, when she was telling me about her son's name.
"It's in the Bible," she said to me in her direct way, but her eyes shimmered with a sort of private pleasure.
I looked at her swiftly from the corner of my eye. Everything that I wanted to say was too much to be said, and I couldn't grab a hold of where to begin.
"Indeed it is," I replied instead, my eyes twinkling.
When they left the next day, she came up to my desk, as though she had an important and deliberate message to deliver.
"I enjoyed meeting you," she said simply. As she spoke, her childlike pleasure was balanced by her natural dignity. "I hope that we'll meet again soon."
It was not a social phrase, it was genuine, and thus unvarnished and unstudied. I understood the importance of it as well, because of the things she had shared with me earlier.
I paused to consider. This is the sort of thing I would never do, normally, but that is what I meant by our conversation being unconventional. As I paused, I realized that I also hoped very much that we would meet again. I sat up straight.
"I hope so," I said, my eyes bright with the undisguised pleasure of it.
Her own eyes suddenly shone bright and beautiful and then her shoulders hunched into themselves. Her shyness washed over her and she had to look away. We waved to each other and then they were gone on their way further South.
As they drove away, I felt a wash of fear for her, because of her innocence and childlike nature. She could be hurt so easily- what would happen to her?
I felt Jesus' loving presence; He did not have to say anything. All my fears dissolved at once into a sort of tender humor at myself.
First of all, she'd already been through incredible suffering; her strength was of that shining sort that had been tried in the crucible. But most importantly, Jesus would be with her no matter where her life took her. She would always be in His hands.
And now it is a sunny Monday morning, and I am going to go out and see what is blooming in the park.