I learned that her name was Josie. I had first approached her but hadn’t really noticed her person, other than her gruff reply to me, when I asked her if hers was my correct shuttle service from the airport. She answered brusquely, “yes”.
It was when I sat down to await my shuttle, on the cold metallic bench just a few feet back of her as she stood curbside together with her company’s metallic shuttle-bus sign, as the noisy, honking, airport traffic simultaneously either coasted to a stop or accelerated away beneath the echoing airport deck overhang, that I noticed her deadpan, bummed-out demeanor. And without intentionally seeking to do so, I felt compassion for her.
I try to carry small gospel tracts for just such occasions and I had several still with me of those that I had taken on my trip. I was motivated by the idea to at least present her with one. She certainly looked like she could benefit from the message, but how to break the ice with her now that I had stepped away from her? She hadn’t been initially at all congenial.
As I was sitting there trying to come up with a small plan of how to approach this woman again, up drove another company employee; older than her, riding in a small electric vehicle resembling a golf cart. I was to learn that her name was Evelyn.
After a quick exchange with Evelyn Josie suddenly disappeared into the airport and Evelyn took her place. She carried that same deadpan demeanor as Josie had, the effect; I was to later realize in reflection, of what is so often an oppressiveness that accompanies the drudgery of work, the incessant demands, and rather cold, impersonal human relations that are regrettably part of big-city life and work.
I felt disappointed, as if I had missed my opportunity but, nonetheless, I sat there thinking how I could still accomplish my little mission. A simple idea formed. I felt it just might be possible to benefit both women in the circumstances.
I walked over to Evelyn and asked: “Will you see the lady again tonight from whom you just took over? If so I wanted to give her this and I was wondering if you would be able to pass it along to her for me?” and I handed her one of my tracts. “And you are welcome to have one for yourself,” I added, and handed her a second tract that she could have.
“Oh you mean Josie”, Evelyn replied, “yes, I’ll see her, but what’s this?”
She looked very briefly at the tract I had given her and then looked me in the eye and asked directly, “Why do you give these out?”
I replied that I had been involved in missionary work most of my life, that I believed God’s love was the answer to people’s problems and I felt that Josie could use the message. She then indicated something to the effect that she had received God in her life previously, and then she added:
‘But I don’t know how to help Josie.”
By that time others arrived that she needed to attend to. I told her, “Don’t worry, just give this to Josie; it will help.” And I stepped back to my seat again to let her continue her work. Her duties with the new arrivals went quickly. The two of us were left alone again. I watched as she proceeded to read the entire tract through, which she kept still in her hand, as we waited for the next shuttle to arrive.
It was my shuttle. Events went quickly. I turned my luggage over to the driver and as I was about to board the shuttle I turned to Evelyn, put my hand on her shoulder and said: “Have a ‘great evening”. We had connected.
With that said, I was on my way, only to sit aside a fellow passenger, an immigrant of some forty years who had anglicized his name to ‘Al’. We spent about an hour in intent conversation. I had been fortunate to have worked previously in his home country and there was much we could share. He so graciously received a tract as we left each other. We had connected.
Our world is filled with people just like Josie, Evelyn and Al. Though perhaps initially appearing unconnected to us in the orb of their existence, and sometimes unwelcoming in appearance as we encounter each other in the busyness that life is, it only takes small efforts on our part to share a little of God’s love with them, however briefly, and they become no longer strangers but fellow travelers. We are all enriched by such efforts. It is at such times, I think, that I most clearly that we are all travelling the same road together and headed the same direction.
© Copyright 2013 John Hislop