Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Glenn Slaby: Gifts of a Stranger

Thanks to Beyond Blue reader Glenn Slaby who sent me his story. I think it points to the small miracles that can happen everyday if we make ourselves “transparent under God,” or become an “ex-suicide.”

Sometimes, when paths cross in life a new direction may be offered to you and another. At times you can, unknowingly; directed by some unforeseen power beyond our comprehension, alter a life. With strangers, a smile, a common courtesy – a door held open – could change one’s mood for a few moments. You may even create a new opportunity, a new choice for their free will to decide. With the mind opened to God, the possibilities may are endless. We may never know how our life may change another’s. Hopefully, all we can do is hope and offer a little prayer. The unknown currents of life can lead others and us into faithful directions.
A tedious job without sense of achievement, usually led me to church during lunch hour. That warm day brought a sudden urging to go a little later than usual to one specific house of worship. This familiar one, sharing a plaza with the courts and police headquarters was now blocked off as officers barricaded the streets and sidewalks.


Permission was needed to enter the area where the quiet, dark church stood. Then, again another urging to ask some officers for directions.
Shy and insecure but restless and curious, I chose to go forward.
“Can I get by to visit the Church?” I timidly asked.
The first officer wasn’t sure. Behind him was another officer, whose tag read “Sanchez” She stood there, imposing in numbers with fellow officers. She surprised with her response. “ Sure, I’ll join you, it’s been a long time.”
Catching the end of service we quietly entered an empty pew and prayed for separate intentions. Possibly ending there, this officer seeing more of the underside of New York than imagined, chooses to emplace our “chance” encounter one step further. Leaving cap on the seat, she goes to confession. I sat feeling slightly uncomfortable, and waiting for her return to say our formal goodbyes. Being a few minutes didn’t matter, this encounter left me slightly richer.
I never saw her again. Maybe I wasn’t intended to. We said our goodbyes at the barricades. Whatever I was chosen for the choice for the future was hers. I may have opened another path; her free will was to decide the path to be taken.
My tedious routine was enriched by this chance encounter – leaving a door opened for someone else. My world became slightly more palatable. Maybe she affected me more than I thought.
In life, all we can do is our best, but we must remember, our actions are a reflection of our beliefs and soul. We must strive to be the best we can with humility and honesty. Should we not open our lives and hearts to God and follow the chosen path? We all know how our influence may be miniscule but God knows the ripple affect – the waves diminishing and yet reaching out in all directions. Do we not remember a teacher, a relative who gave us some wise truth?

  • Valerie

    I absolutely love “God moments” like these. Pure providence. Nothing is coincidental. And the really cool thing is–God has this stuff all planned out–way in advance. Makes you really think about how really magnificent and completely AWESOME that he is!
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  • cathy

    Me, too. I love hearing about the “God moments.”
    I know this is somewhat mundane, but my grandmother taught me how to be open to connections like this when she explained how she dealt with rude salespeople or others she came across during the day. She would overpower them with empathy and kindness. Often, she would be very direct: “You seem as though you’re having a hard day today, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate your help here.” It always softened the people, and sometimes — indeed — she’d hear stories from them about what was going on in their lives.
    What this taught me is not to assume that someone is rude always or that the rudeness is related to me. Sometimes people are suffering, and it helps to reach inside with kindness.
    I also will never forget a day when I broke apart as a young adult and ran down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley sobbing my guts out. A homeless man stepped in front of me and hugged me for five minutes until I calmed down. He seemed to come out of nowhere, and he helped me feel human again. We all need help sometimes.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    I ABSOLUTELY agree that we never know how our actions or words touch another in the exact place that needs touching. Those “random acts of kindness” are priceless whether you’re the one giving or the one receiving! Too frequently, our “learned reticence” keeps us from reaching out when the opportunity presents itself. (I say “llearned reticence because my observation of children through the years has shown me thatthey usially have no such inhibitions…yes, they can be cruel to one another, but they can also be amazingly compassionate if they don’t realize they’re being observed. It’s only once they’ve experienced rebuke that they tend to pull inside themselves; another thing that “has to be carefully taught(My absolute FAVORITE show tune (“South Pacific”)

  • Margaret Balyeat

    BTW, Cathy, IMHO there was nothing “mundane about your grandmother’s advice–it’s valuable and takes so little to put into practice!

  • Glenn Slaby

    I liked your grandmother’s adviced also.

  • MyLadyK

    “We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace.” Peggy Tabor Millin

  • Larry Parker

    Would it be ungentlemanly of me to say I did not “get” this post?

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