Finding family among strangers
I didn't grow up in a large family, but now I have so many family members I can't even count them. It's wonderful. I don't know all their names, but I enjoy our connections.
One brief connection gave me a long-lasting smile. I was standing on a street corner holding signs. One sign had an arrow and said, "Car Wash." The other sign said the name of my church. As a man drove by with his car window down, he turned up his car radio to blast out a Christian song.
At another fundraising car wash for my church, a man gave a donation and then brought us a case of water to share with our customers. It was during that heat spell we endured recently. That man provided refreshment for brothers and sisters he probably won't even meet until heaven.
Sometimes I recognize a sister before we are introduced. It startled me the first time it happened. I was going into an office she was leaving. In the doorway. Instantly. My insides signaled recognition. I am more familiar with the phenomenon now. My spirit recognizes kindred spirits.
Last week, my husband, Gilbert, and I participated in a mini-family reunion at Rainbow West Bookstore in Salem. It started with my calling the store to find out where they were. They are no longer on Lancaster Drive. A very helpful woman answered the phone, and explained they had moved across the street, almost right next to Target. We found the store and the young woman, Ruth, who had answered the phone. I was reassured. Several Christian bookstores have closed down, but not this one!
Ruth, my husband and I had a nice visit, a blessing of a chat. While Gilbert and I were shopping, an older woman came in and also had a short and sweet visit with Ruth. I didn't eavesdrop, but I do have good hearing. They shared some details about their lives. After they hugged, they introduced themselves to each other by name.
That's how it is with family. The connection of love does not need to know names. It doesn't need persons to be of the same generation in order to relate. It doesn't need cultural similarities in order to feel at ease.
Of course, I'm not asking for every trip to the bookstore to include chats. In the midst of the short time we were there, Ruth also helped a man who was looking for a large print Bible. She asked a few questions to determine which Bibles he would appreciate, and then offered him several to choose from.
What I am asking is, "If I gathered up one hundred strangers, how many of them would I be related to?" When we don't know each other, we see the outside and how different we are from each other. What would it be like if we could just as easily see the inside of others? How much similarity would we find? Can we get past appearances to discover realities?