We were vacationing at an historic hotel in Virginia and, after dinner I was relaxing on one of several white rocking chairs that invited guests to rest and relax as well as signal a welcome to the hotel. It was a warm evening and I was relaxing; not reading, not visiting, simply sitting and letting the evening sounds, occasional voices from the nearby Shakespeare playhouse, an occasional vehicle passing, gentle and distant whispers of conversation as couples walked on the nearby sidewalk, as well as the constant song of crickets that I could only hear when I listened, as the sound seemed to surround and gently fill in the gaps of the more strident sounds produced by people.
As I sat and softly rocked many people walked by, and one man stopped and asked a question. We began to talk and I learned he was visiting from another state and was there for the Music Festival. We talked about that as well as sharing very brief history, the kind of thing often done when one meets a stranger, and then he had to go. As he prepared to leave he mentioned how he enjoyed our brief conversation, and now as we went our different ways, he realized we would probably never see each other again. He said that he was thankful for the few minutes that we shared.
We all have chance encounters in life, some expected, as those of us practicing interim ministry are constantly meeting new people as we travel from one ministry location to another; but often brief, unplanned for encounters with people we don’t know and will never see again. As I reflected on this moment I realized it was an opportunity for grace and blessing. I could easily have stopped the conversation or excused myself to leave; but chose to engage in conversation that in my mind began as intrusion and ended as blessing.