Last night I called a friend who lives 350 miles away, although we text daily, I haven’t seen him in years. We were talking about the need to give during the holiday season, he mentioned his favorite charities- I mentioned mine, and how a little bit of our money could bring hope to someone else. He then told me on his daily walk he saw a lone man which is unusual as he walks the shores of the Cape in all weather. He offered the salutation of “How are you?” the lone man stopped and replied, “I am struggling, I am depressed. I gave up drinking 20 years ago and the isolation of our times is killing me.”
Certainly not the response my friend had imagined. So, he stopped, staying 6 feet away, and spoke with this lonely soul. He provided what we call in nursing- “active listening”. He listened so the other man felt he was heard and had made a human connection, a dent in his feelings of isolation. The man spoke of his fishing boat and his catches and other seemingly trivial things, most important to him.
During our conversation it occurred to me that my friend was at the right place at the right time to provide a gift of compassion and human interaction, a gift well above and beyond anything money could have done. A moment of recognition, acceptance and common bond was all this lonely soul needed.
Who knows if he prayed for help prior to his walk, but someone somewhere made sure out in the sands of the Cape two men would meet. This moment was spiritually orchestrated no doubt in my mind.
It becomes more and more evident to me how much we need each other, life is messy and unpredictable, and to have someone else hear us, acknowledge our struggles, share a moment is something money doesn’t offer. The gifts of the heart are priceless.