Moments of Encounter – June Reflection

After a morning’s shopping, I went home on the bus. At one of the stops, an elderly lady got on and since there was a vacant seat beside me, I gestured to her to sit there. On leaving her burden down, she gave a great sigh as she eased her body on the seat. “Isn’t it a beautiful day!” she said, with a tone that invited me to engage with her.  A few minutes later, as the bus eased its way among the traffic, a beautiful tree in full white cheery blossom came into view and she exclaimed, “Isn’t that just beautiful!” We sat in silence for a few moments and then she told me she was from St Lucia and had been in England for many years. We exchanged names and I mentioned having lived in other parts of the world too. That was a special moment of encounter when we connected in something ‘more’ of our lives. I was conscious that I would be leaving the bus after two more stops, so I let her know that I would be parting from her at the stop near the church. Thjuneere was a pause before she said, “I have not been to church for years.”  After a moment’s silence, she added, “My husband has Alzheimer’s. “I assured her that I would remember her and her husband in prayer.  As we parted, she said, “It was good to talk to you”.   “Thank you! I appreciated it too!”

This encounter lingered with me. I reflected on the fact that what had seemed to be an ordinary bus journey, turned out to be a glimpse into another person’s world. The incident brought home to me the values of hospitality, listening presence and the joy of encounter; human values that reveal the danger of underestimating brief moments such as these, for they contain more than words can express!

“There are no chance meetings: either God sends us the person we need, or we are sent to somebody by God”.  Fr. Alexander Elechaninov.

Margaret Doherty, RNDM