I have done things today which I normally would never do. I have been sorting out some things in my mind, puzzling over a matter which has caused me a couple of sleepless nights of worry and wondering about how to handle a situation, and I was frustrated because no answers were forthcoming, despite prayer, despite journaling, the things that normally ease my mind.
The car had to go into the city today for its yearly maintenance at the Toyota dealer, so I was up early to make the ferry and looking forward to a day when I would have several hours in Seattle to do whatever I wanted, with a loaner car. On the ferry, my thoughts returned to the dilemma in my life, but I was sick of it so I picked up the book I always have in the car for ferry trips---Rachel Naomi Remen's "Kitchen Table Wisdom". (If you haven't read it, I recommend it.)
While reading one of the stories in the book, I literally felt pieces of my dilemma coming together into a coherent whole and before the boat docked, I felt I had received an answer. My heart lifted, I started thinking about what next step might be best, now that I had seen the problem more clearly and more deeply. This kind of solution rarely comes to me in this way. It was as though one of the stories mirrored my dilemma enough that I could see through it to what lay at the heart of my experience.
I had decided a week or so ago that I wanted to spend some of my day enjoying the "Lucy" exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, which I did. It was the same day and time as a rowdy bunch of high school kids were also viewing the exhibit, so it was a little tricky to manage any sort of quiet contemplation, but at one point I walked into an almost-empty room with a display case in the middle of it.
In that case lay the actual fossilized skeleton of this multi-million-year aged woman, Lucy, the oldest specimen of hominid yet discovered. As I gazed down at these ancient stone bones, I felt tears pricking my eyes, inexplicably, and a lump in my throat. I can't even tell you quite why I felt like crying, but as I handed in my audio-device to the young woman at the exit, I mentioned my emotional reaction, and she nodded sagely, "yes, one woman told me that she stood there and sobbed when she saw Lucy".
I got a bite of lunch and was heading back to the car. Near the Space Needle, an elderly man had a tamborine and a cup set out in front of him as he sang in a husky voice some old chant that sounded a little like a spiritual or a one line gospel song, "Lord, I'm so thankful, when I was lonely, you were my friend, when I was sick, you healed me, when I was broke, you comforted me" over and over, shaking the tamborine.
I put a $5 in his cup and sat down by him. I would never have done such a thing on another day, I suspect. But this day was different. I stayed with him for twenty minutes or so. He finished his song and then began to preach, encouraging me to say amen periodically, which I did. He talked about Jesus and how Jesus was so important to him. And again I felt the tears behind my eyelids. People walked by; we were both oblivious. After awhile I stood up to go and he said "sister, you have been a blessing to me today, and I thank you" and I said "Lionel Lewis (which he had said was his name), you have been a blessing to me today, and I thank you." And we hugged and I walked away.
It has been such a day...