"Are you training for something?"
Oh crap. This man wants to talk. Really? Mid-mile 5 you're going to stop me for conversation? I had slowed to a crawl in order to get around some bushes on the edge of the property. I had already turned my head, acknowledging him and his question - too late to pretend I can't hear him with my head phones in. "Just training for life. I'm a runner." I explained.
I hoped for a quick exit, but he insisted on keeping the conversation going. With bugs plastered to my face and neck, snot dripping from my nose, and streams of sweat flowing down arms and legs, this man wanted to chat. Great, I thought, I'm disgusting and he wants to make small talk. Then again, I observed, he was also a bit less than put together. With weed wacker in hand, it was obvious he was out doing yard work.
Still, I felt awkward, yet obligated to stop and answer his questions. After all, I may or may not have been trespassing on his property. I'm not sure. The South Shore has a walkway trail along the lake written into everyone's deeds. But I was on the West Shore, and I've never bothered to ask the rules on that side. I figured I 'd keep running along all the shores until someone complained or got upset. Which, I feared, might be this man. But I was rather certain I could charm him out of being angry with me, so I continued the discussion.
But then it occurs to me this man might not even be the homeowner. After all, it was a REALLY nice home and he could have been hired to do the yard work. "So wait, do you live here?" I inquired.
"Oh, no. This isn't my place. I live in New York." He went on to explain how he had started a lawn company years ago, and his brother had kept it going after he moved to the city. "I'm just back for the summer and helping take care of some of the lawns while I'm here."
That's when it his me... THIS is the guy my aunt had told me about a couple of weeks prior. He's helping with her lawn too - on the North Shore. My aunt had mentioned to him she has a niece in New York, and evidently he kept prying for more information on me. But rather than offering to set us up, my aunt told him perhaps he'd run into me sometime at the local pub.
For those following my blog, you know I don't readily hand out my number. But since I already knew about this guy and he already knew about me, this felt different. So when he asked if I might want to meet up for drinks sometime, I agreed to giving him my digits. That run in meeting was on a Wednesday; the very next day he texted to see if I might want to meet up that evening.
But I couldn't. I felt lousy - too weak to do anything but to lie in bed for most of the evening. And as I did I shed a few tears - not because I'm depressed, but rather because I'm disappointed my poor health is preventing me from going after the life I want to be living.
Near 9 PM I felt somewhat okay - not okay for a date, or to write, but well enough to walk down the shore. So I message the guy from down the shore and ask, "Can I drop by for a bit?" I knew spending time with him would cheer my spirits and that I could show up not feeling the greatest and it wouldn't matter. He already knows my story, so I wouldn't have to explain.
I think too often church going people believe something has to be blatantly Christian in order for it to bring healing to our brokenness. But rockclimbing and my rockclimbing friends in So Cal have taught me that this isn't always the case. And the guy from down the shore - the "big kid" - has also surprised me in how he is able to cheer me up when I'm not feeling my best. Sometimes the healing our spirit needs come from the most unexpected people and places.
Feel free to leave a comment - Where, who, or what has provided a healing presence in your life?
(Stay tuned for part III - the rescheduled date)