A Reflective Story by Shelley-Ann Cowan
The other day I fell. I wouldn’t say I’ve been very clumsy in my life, but the moments when I have, I’ve wounded my pride more than anything else.
I had stopped in at McDonald’s before the sun was even up to grab some breakfast before heading off to work. With only 15 minutes until the next bus, I ate my breakfast quickly and left with just my coffee. I held the door for a stranger behind me on the way out. Walking down the uneven stone steps, the heel of my boot caught on a stone and I stumbled. It almost played out in slow motion as I tried to prevent the fall but eventually landed hard on one knee as my coffee went flying. The stranger quickly rushed down the stairs to see if I was okay. I assured him I was and that I was only lamenting the loss of my coffee. He offered me a toonie to go and get another. I thanked him but said I did not have time since I needed to catch a bus. He then held out his own coffee to me and said “What was in yours? Mine is cream and sugar.” I said that he was sweet but it was okay.
I picked myself up and moped my way across the street to the bus stop. I was standing there wondering how early the Tim Horton’s in the mall might open and if I could grab a new coffee before my shift started at 7:30, going over the logistics of trying to drink said coffee quickly in the short time I’d have before getting down to business in the store. In the corner of my eye I spotted something moving quickly and turned to see the stranger rushing across the street with a brand new coffee held out before him. My first words were “You didn’t?!” He just handed it to me without a word and I said “That was very sweet, thank you” as he turned and went on his way.
I was still a little stunned at this random act of kindness as I boarded my bus. When I took a sip I was even more surprised that it was clearly one milk and one sugar, just the way I like it. He must have asked the server what my previous order was. He really brightened my day and made me think there are still good people in this world. I thought, if I win the McDonald’s Monopoly I’m going to have to go back and find him to share the winnings.
I was relaying the story to my roommate Katie this morning and she made a reference to her message last week about seeing the divine in the stranger. I hadn’t thought of it that way. She left for work and I set about making myself a tea and settling in to crochet and listen to a nexus re-run from a week I’d missed. As the recording reached the point of a haunting requiem and a reading about how fleeting life is, I couldn’t help but think of that stranger again. My thoughts began to swirl and I kept hearing the words “seeing the divine in the stranger”. I felt like I was missing something. Then it was like the world stopped. Lord, was that you?
I’ve heard stories before of people believing they’d met an angel, or heard the voice of God. I’ve taken it all with a grain of salt. But with my heart hammering, and tears in my eyes, I sat there and wondered if it could really be true.
It doesn’t matter in the end. Not really. What does matter, is that I did see the divine that day. Whether that was Jesus or an angel, or simply a stranger with a good heart, isn’t really the point. In the book Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell talks about how we shouldn’t be worrying about getting to Heaven, but about bringing Heaven to earth. I finally get it. Because in the pre-dawn darkness, a stranger brought me a little piece of Heaven in the form of a large, one milk, one sugar.