Every now and then we meet people who leave an impression on our hearts, and often they are people we never expect to cross paths with.
My husband and I were taking in the sights of the historic city, and we needed to get away from the crowds so we could explore the character and personality of the architecture. As we made our way down the street, I heard a faint voice of a man. Although I could not see him or hear what he was saying, it was evident he was speaking to passersby.
One by one, he would call out to them. One by one, they would glance in his direction, look away and quicken their pace to get past the interruption.
I was curious what was causing such a reaction, and sure enough, as we got closer, I heard his voice.
“Come put a pin on the map where you were born,” was all he said.
There on the porch of a home which looked to be at least 100 years old sat an old man, unshaven, hair untamed and clothing saturated in sweat from the heat of the day. He must have been sitting there for hours. Beside him were two large maps mounted on foam boards to represent all 7 continents.
I remember thinking….WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!
Here lived a man in an old, dilapidated home….on a quiet, out-of-the-way street….in a town saturated by thousands of people on any given day of the year, and he was alone. Yet, he had figured out a way to strike up a conversation with anyone who was willing to accept his offer.
We approached and each placed a pin on our respective continents. We shared small talk as he tried to find commonalities….he had done this before.
I found myself wanting to stay.
For all of my daily counting over the past months and the filling my list of 1000 gifts, I had learned the gift of a moment. I had learned to recognize and appreciate those graces I had spent so many years passing over. I wanted to linger and just be in this moment. To chase that one gift
Then, as if he sensed it was time, he ended by asking if he could give me us a piece of advice to take with us.
#1. Don’t judge people by the way they look or dress, because you will most likely be wrong.
#2. God grants the same grace over all seven continents, but if you always walk around holding your umbrella, you will miss out.
Who knows how many years had been spent in the same wooden chair, on this rickety old porch.
Who can count how many times this charming old-timer had been passed by because of his tattered clothing and unkempt hair.
Who knows how many umbrellas this man had watched meander past his porch without so much as a tilt or a glance.
How many times I have been the person beneath the umbrella! Unable to hear the voice of grace. Unable to recognize the gifts awaiting my glance. Unable to accept what was meant just for me.
I will never pop open an umbrella again without thinking of the wise encouragement I received that day, from a man I might have ignored and passed by on any other day.
#638 A scenic cobblestone street
#639 A wise and delightful old man
#640 One pin to mark the gift of a life
#641 Words to live by
#642 No Umbrella!
What “words to live by” have stuck in your heart through the years?
Are you walking around with your umbrella open?