Monday, February 1, 2010

Angels in Winter Coats

Today, I was melancholy and lonely. Sometimes living alone gets to me in that way; I suddenly become aware of just how solitary I am, and even a bit jealous of the people who post dozens of pictures on Facebook of their fun weekends with friends. I got so down contemplating my aloneness that I couldn't focus on my reading or my paper, so I decided a change of scenery would perk me up. I wrote out my list, and headed out to do some grocery shopping for the week.

After relieving my little car of the foot of snow that covered it, I tried to back out of my parking space. The car didn't budge. Poor Flavia was completely trapped by the snow that filled my parking space. Feeling disappointed, I decided to give up and head back in. Just then, two complete strangers walked up with a snow shovel.

"We'll help you out," they cheerfully promised. Then, for the next twenty minutes or so, they dug and dug until at last my car was completely free. I thanked them profusely and headed out to do my shopping.

Those two men obviously had plans of their own today. They could have just left. There would have been absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, they didn't know me, and it's not as if they caused the snow that buried my little car. But instead of fulfilling their own plans, they stopped to help a stranger. They thought that they just dug out my car. What those two men don't know is that they were used by God to remind a lonely person that she isn't really alone. They don't even know my name, and yet they blessed me. And thanks to them, I'm not melancholy anymore.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"