In a parking lot in front of CVS


Feeling the pull, the strong tug, from all around me, I went for a walk along the beach.  As I scrolled through the list in my mind, the gentle waves of incoming tides, the music of a natural rhythm, the mid-winter crispness… and the comfort of peering through a viewfinder in search of a composition.  These healed.  Still though, the list…

… the list remained.  And it was a weight.

On my way home, I decided to do that one errand I had been putting off all weekend.  As I walked through the parking lot, an older couple in my path approached.  The woman simply said: “I like your hat.”  It was the one I had purchased in Edinburgh a few years ago on a trip with Joey.  In less than a second, I had to choose.  One answer was “thank you”, the other was “thank you, I got it in Scotland…”

Choosing the second opened the door to a chance encounter.

“I’m Scottish”, she replied.  “I have been there many times and I love it.”

I described my own trip there and the couple in my path became more to me than just that.  We talked.  Joked.  Shared.  The man, quiet at first, opened up when I told him that I was interested in photography.  He introduced himself as “Joe… a retired photographer.”  That, of course, extended the conversation.

Still though, it was all superficial.  Ancestry.  Travel.  Photography.  All surface stuff.

As the conversation began to transition to a parting, Joe reached out to shake my hand.  He said: “I enjoyed meeting you.  Thank you for the conversation.  I’d like you to have this.”  A silver chromed coin passed from his clutched hand to mine.  It read:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and fortune.” — Jeremiah 29:11

It was just a chance encounter with strangers, connected by a red tartan hat from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland.  A choice to linger, to encounter.  I can still see their smiles, sense their interest.  And feel the grasp of my hand by Joe’s and the placement of a sliver coin into mine.

The list remains but like the cascading waves on the shore, I sense the comfort of presence, of assurance.


In a parking lot in front of CVS.

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