Wednesday, May 26, 2010
She was bent and looked up from a weathered face of 81 years.
There was a quality beyond her looks that drew me to her. I'd been sitting next to her making occasional small talk at the gate. She was articulate, though a bit forgetful, and I could tell she was worried about getting her carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments.
I felt an assignment to make sure she felt secure... as if she were family. I helped remind her where her seat was: one behind mine. To reassure her, I waved to her before I started to sit. The man behind me asked if I'd like to trade seats.
So began a conversation that left us both changed. "You understand older people, don't you."
(I always ask the Lord to guide me to meaningful conversations or good rest whenever I fly.)
She came from a home where her mother hated her. Her older sister, before she died, apologized for being so mean to her. It reminded me of Cinderella, except Hilda had had no carriage, no glass slipper, and no palace life.
She did have a man who had been interested in her and courted her for years. But she was afraid that his controlling sister and mother were only too familiar.
Now, a year after his death, she was grieving what she could have had, missing his care, wondering if it might have worked.
We talked of faith, of the "Almighty" as she referred to G-O-D, and commented on His surprising similarity to the Jesus I talked about.
She didn't think she was the poorer for her experiences. Just sad. I reminded her of Joseph's comment to his brothers. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good" (Genesis 50:20).
They could have made her bitter, those close encounters with rejection. But they didn't. She described how she broke the generational meanness by deliberately speaking encouragment into a younger relative who had also been picked on. There was a sensitivity, an openness to others who were vulnerable.
There were times she looked straight into my eyes and I into hers. Brokenness met brokenness. "Mine keeps being mended by Yeshua," I told her.
"How do you pronounce 'Yeshua' in Hebrew?" I asked. "You don't," she flashed back with a smile. In spite of her custom, I knew that same Yeshua would reveal more of Himself.
We shared slices of our lives and precious discoveries from our faith.
She nodded. "I'm very glad we had this conversation. It has helped me."
I'm glad too, Hilda. May Yeshua, closer than a brother, be your comfort and your peace.
For Your Consideration
"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
How have you experienced Christ saving presence in the twists of your life?
[Note: Name and photograph have been changed.]