This morning I went to get some candles at a store and no sooner did I walk in that a friend called to meet for lunch. As I was rushing to exit the store I saw this frail older woman looking at towels by the registers. I passed her but as I got to the sliding glass doors I was drawn to turn around and go speak with her. I touched her lightly on her arm, “You are such a beautiful woman. I am drawn by your light.” In total shock and dismay she looked at me and began to cry. She couldn’t speak. I continued while reaching for her hands, “I know you must have looked at yourself in the mirror today and spoke to your image very negative ‘cause that’s what we do, but you are stunning! I hope you see the delightfulness of your being.”
After she composed herself she began, “I am not half the person I used to be. A year ago this month I had cancer and my intestines have been chopped off. I’ve lost over 50 lbs. Chemo has basically killed me. I am a walking cadaver. I am not a young woman and I feel even older than what the image in the mirror tells me.” I began to cry. Her words carried such loss, desperation, and a complete lack of faith. “I shouldn’t be here right now. I’ve passed my expiration date and cannot understand why I am still here.”
I hugged her tightly and said, “Oh my God, what an amazing and magical opportunity to live life to the fullest. What an incredible journey full of endless possibilities. Here you are standing in your glory looking all glamorous with an angel by your side. What an amazing way to take the world by storm because you have been given a second chance.” She looked through her tears and smiled gasping for more words.
“Thank you! Thank you for saying this on a day that I felt was my last. Lately that’s all I am doing is waiting on death to come get me. I came to this store to distract my thoughts and here you are telling me such beautiful things.” We both hugged and cried. She asked me for my name and I just answered, “It doesn’t matter. I am you. You are me.” Quickly I remembered that my friend was in the parking lot waiting for me. I kissed her hand, rubbed her face with tenderness and exited. I was so moved into overwhelming sorrow that my friend thought something had happened to me in the store.
We are a tough bunch. We are harder on ourselves than others. We are given a zillion chances to see the positive light of hope, and yet, even with scares and obstacles that we overcome through grace we still decide to live in the past of sorrow. Our humanity has such rough edges. We don’t stop to touch another with a gentle word or a smile. Half the time we rush around like if we were in ant colony looking for food.
Now hours later I think of this broken soul. I came home and lit a candle for her. She was my teacher today. A total stranger lifted my hope, grace, and love. I’ve been her many times. We all have had moments of pure desperation, thinking of checking out, rushing out of this world to something calmer to find peace. She will never know what that conversation meant to me. I only hope she finds the strength to look inside herself and explore that light that is casting out into this world. That’s really all that matters. We are reflections of one another. In the end all we have is our humanness that connects us to divinity. We are never ever, ever alone.