Sometimes, waiting is necessary for hope to make its way into our lives. Hope that there is still prayers to be said, hope that people can connect with each other and share a moment that impacts our lives forever.
I am surprised by the conversations I had with strangers waiting for the washroom. I was at Home Restaurant in Hope on the way to a retreat. While I was waiting in line for the washroom a woman with curly dark hair in her mid 60’s and I were standing there. I looked on the far wall in front of us and there was this old photograph of women in dresses and men with top hats standing on the street. “This photograph is amazing, I love how they dressed back then.” I said. She smiled.
There was a pause.
“I remember back in the day, when dressing up was the thing we did. When I was younger, we would wear dresses and it was a celebration to dress up. Nowadays, people walk around like some of them look like they are wearing pajamas. My grandchild’s teacher came to school one day, she is a very good teacher by the way. But she looked like she was wearing pajamas.”
I smiled, “I do miss the days when I would get excited to wear a fancy dress, shiny shoes and get excited just to go out to the store! Times have changed! I see some people wearing torn jeans, some with these oversized baggy pants and some forgot the sides of their pants lol, I have seen some of the friends my son was hanging out with wear pants so baggy as if their pants are falling down but not! And sometimes I see some men today look like they are wearing suits that are too small for their bodies and pants too short for their legs.”
The lady giggled. I brought up the Waltons and how the women and girls dressed back in history, “they were not a very rich family but most of the dresses were handmaid. It was like that in my grandmother’s day. Handmade clothes. Material was cheaper to buy than to purchase a dress due to the cost and labor.”
We both reminisced over the simpler days. I wondered if it was simpler or if it was complicated. To us it seems complicated in the digital age, however, everything had to be done by hand and not computers. They labored long and worked hard. Today we are working hard but a different way of working. Our discussion ended when the washroom was free.
The next woman that came to stand in line, she was in her 80’s. I was waiting in line for 20 minutes by this time, and the woman I was talking to who was in her 60’s peeked through the closed door and whispered, “there is a woman who has some challenges in the washroom and has a caregiver she has help to get to her walker. But it might take a bit more time”. I nodded still thinking about the people in the photograph on the wall. The woman in her 80’s looked like she really had to go, and she was way older than me so I chided for her to come and go ahead of me. I am not trying to make myself into some kind of washroom ‘waiting-in-line’ hero or anything lol but, if you saw her face you would let her go in front of you as well I am sure.
Then the conversation happened with the 80 year old. “that is a very unique necklace you have, what does it mean?”
I was surprised not many people ask me about my special cross necklace. I casually said, “It means I embrace the cross. I am a Secular Franciscan and I wear this as my cloak to proclaim Christ and the good news in the secular world.”
She stared at it, then came closer.
“What is a Secular Franciscan?” She asked. I smiled at her, “I follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, by trying to live the gospel to life and life to gospel accept I do not live in a community, I live and work and can marry and have children but I serve and work all the while proclaiming the good news about Jesus and living my life in service and prayer while I work and live in the secular world.” the washroom door flew open and the woman with her walker came out. The 80 year old walked towards the open door looked sad and said, “I really want to talk to you some more, but”…she went into the washroom.
I was alone still waiting patiently….
The 80 year old woman came out, and of course I was still there, she looked like she was crying, and she embraced me with the BIGGEST, greatest hug I had experienced in a whole MONTH! I held her tight, and I could sense the Lord come over me. I looked at her, and I said can I pray for you? she looked overjoyed, and said, ‘yes please I have many ailments and I am sick.’ She gave me her name, and I have been praying for her ever since.
There is always an opportunity wherever we are to simply be ourselves. To announce good news, to converse with each other, to be authentic, and to simply not be afraid to share the cloak I wear in a medallion on my neck that shows the cross and two hands on each side: Embrace the Cross, and proclaim the goodness of God.
I know that while following a humble and difficult path, that God somehow takes what is little and uses the moment to allow the grace of God to flow into conversations. After I used the washroom, (which was very fast), I looked for the woman who hugged me —she was nowhere in sight.