We Have the Opportunity to Experience Sacred Encounters Every Day
I believe that every day holds the possibility of experiencing a sacred encounter. We interact with many people on a given day, each a unique and precious human being with hopes, fears and needs.
I know that when I slow down, am fully present in the moment, I can see that which is significant in, and to, another person.
Sometimes, we are given an opportunity to fulfill a sacred purpose.
One such opportunity occurred years ago, when my husband Tim and I ran a resort on Lake Superior. It was late in the afternoon and we were strolling the beach collecting drift wood so our guests could enjoy an evening around the campfire. I glanced up to the road running parallel to our beach, to see a young man riding toward us on a racing bike. As he neared us, he stopped his bike, paused, and gazed out over the lake. We took a break from our tasks and chatted with him. We learned that the young man had just graduated from Yale and was riding his bike across the United States before he was to take a job on Wall Street.
While I listened to his words as he described his journey, it wasn’t the sights and experiences about his trip which struck me. Rather, like a visceral punch in the gut, I sensed a deep sadness in him. I felt a sense of knowing that this person needed something. I did not know what at the time, but followed my instincts that I was meant to respond in some way. I invited him to stay at the resort and join our family for dinner. While he would not accept free accommodations, he did agree to pitch his tent on our lawn and stay for dinner and a campfire.
As we sat around the campfire late into the night, one by one Tim and our guests drifted off to bed. Under a starry sky and glowing embers, this man wearing a shroud of sorrow shared his story with me. His mother had passed away during his senior year of college and he was literally biking through the terrain of his grief. I knew with complete certainty that this was a holy encounter and that my purpose in life at that moment was quite simply to hear him; to really hear him, his love for his mother, his fear that nothing would ever be the same again without his mother in this world. I did hear him. I knew in that moment I was living my purpose in bearing witness to his pain, his love, his fear and in doing so providing comfort and care to his wounded soul.
I know just as surely as I lived my purpose in that moment, I know that I have squandered more potentially sacred encounters than I have seized. I think of times when a friend or someone I have coached comes to me and shares something I did or said years ago which made a profound difference in their lives. I feel discomforted wondering if I had fully understood at the time what the person needed and how important my full understanding and interaction with that person was.
I wonder, if had I been distracted by the priorities of raising our two teenage boys, or had been working in my corporate career versus running a resort in a small town with its slower cadence, would I have seen a boy on a bike living a grand adventure, or would I have seen a young man burdened with deep sorrow.
I know that I do not want to miss sacred encounters that God puts before me. I believe that I, and all of you have a purpose in this life to seize those moments, and in doing so, to know what it is to mend a broken heart, heal a soul, share incomprehensible joy, or experience deep connection and love.
CALL TO ACTION
Choose To Be Present
- Practice by simply making a decision to be fully present with those you encounter for one day (you might try asking someone how they are as a genuine question versus a rhetorical one).
- At the end of the day, reflect on what was different for you and with your interaction with various people.
- Now take a bigger step and consider the people you interact with and choose one person with whom you will foster love and connection with by being fully present more regularly, starting this week.
Follow-Up on a Feeling
- Reflect back on your interactions over the last few months and determine if there were any times where you felt a fleeting sense of unease, a sense that something was not quite right (it might has been a comment made under someone’s breath, a look of momentary discomfort, a question that seemed to have an underlying message).
- Circle back with that person and let them know what your feeling was and let them know you are interested in knowing how they were feeling or thinking at the time.