Morning mall-walking continues and becomes more and more serendipitous.
A couple weeks ago in the “Lost Cajun” installment of this blog, I mentioned Boompa, my late father-in-law. Early on, walking Cool Springs Mall I noticed an older gentleman also lapping the place every morning. Walking behind him, his gait and speed, his height, both bowed knees that created the same slight limp, and even his cap reminded me mightily of Boompa. I wish those of you who knew Boompa could observe Robert walk every morning – you wouldn’t believe the similarity either.
Robert’s photo makes him look taller than my father-in-law, but my new friend is only a little slimmer – they were likely the same size at Robert’s age of 71. Boompa claimed walking on concrete floors in his grocery stores all those years took its toll on his knees causing his slight limp. Today I caught up with Robert and in conversation asked him what kind of work he did while in the workforce. You guessed it – Kroger, 42 years. The take-away here – if you want bad knees and to walk with a slight limp, spend a whole career working in a grocery store.
Robert asked about my line of work, and when I told him First Baptist Church downtown, it turns out he plays saxophone and for a while played in a band that rehearsed weekly in our church basement with Bill York, FBC’s security chief. Small world.
Today Robert and I were walking the lower level of the mall and when it was time for me to go to the office, I said a few parting words to him and hopped on the escalator to the top level where I had parked. Rounding the corner I overtook a new-to-me walker and howdied as I went by. In a half-dozen or so paces he shouted my way –
“Didn’t you used to be at First Baptist Church?”
Turning around “I did! I’m Mark Edwards. Tell me who you are.”
“Bill Long. I’m Gina’s father.”
I lock-stepped with him a few minutes of visitation and then headed to the parking lot amazed at what had just happened. The funny part about that is a few weeks ago when I wrote about the poofy-haired walker – Suzanne – Gina commented “My Dad is also an early morning Cool Springs Mall walker. Sometimes I join him when I’m in town, so if you see a girl yawning, with bed hair trying to keep up with her Dad…that’s me!”
I’m not making this stuff up; I’m enjoying it…but beginning to wonder some about the recent connections I’m discovering and making.
I’m noticing that since Honey died nearly two years ago, I seem to see different things and see things differently. Perhaps my gaze is wider or vision clearer; I’m looking more intently or intentionally. Good things – people and situations – seem to be showing up unexpectedly and more often; maybe I’m living with a greater sense of expectancy; so far, it’s interesting and down-right delightful. Soon after Honey died my brother Randy made a comment to the effect that the “next chapter” for me may be the best yet. I also remember my long-time friend Rita commenting a few years following her husband’s death that she didn’t know if she’d ever be happy again, but she genuinely was. I still see and feel a big hole in my heart every day, but life nearing two years later is good.
These serendipities mall-walking and elsewhere bring to mind an old hymn I love as did Honey. She always wanted me to play it at night after putting her to bed – “it’s happy and calming.” The hymn has appeared in various hymnals since 1779 when it was written. The fact that it has been paired with various tunes could indicate the search is ongoing for the right tune. Perhaps the tune I penned – JONATHAN (named for my eldest grandson) – included in the Celebrating Grace Hymnal will end the search…or not.
Sometimes a light surprises the child of God who sings;
it is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings.
When comforts are declining He grants the soul again
a season of clear shining to cheer it after rain.
In hold contemplation we sweetly then pursue
the theme of God’s salvation and find it ever new;
set free from present sorrows, we cheerfully can say,
“Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.”
It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too’
beneath the spreading heavens no creature but is fed;
and He who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.
Though vine nor fig tree neither expected fruit should bear,
though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice,
for while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.
Words – William Cowper, 1179
I can say for sure that in the last couple of years I have been “in Him confiding” more and that “I cannot but rejoice.” Thank you, Lord.