about 6 years ago i was in anchorage, alaska. i stood in line at a starbucks in a barnes & noble, waiting to order my latte, killing time before heading to the airport to fly home to north carolina. my mouth was watering for a starbucks latte. it had been over a week without one, and i was going through withdrawl. i had 5 teenage girls and one of my dearest friends with me in alaska. we had been doing volunteer work (and a little sight-seeing, too, naturally) and having an amazing time together. it was the last few minutes before we got on a plane and headed back to our everyday lives.
but the week we had just completed left us transformed & touched. we had prepared & served lunches for the homeless, provided free haircuts & showers for anyone who needed to freshen up, played with kids who came from rough neighborhoods, and sorted clothes at the salvation army. we were exhausted, but our hearts & souls were overflowing from all that we had received from the amazing people we came in contact with during our stay.
but, in that moment, i wanted my coffee really bad. i could almost taste it. i remember the girls sitting at a table behind me, patiently waiting & chatting about all their experiences. i turned & looked at them. probably out of instinct… checking that they were all there & all ok. when i turned back around again in the line, i was met with two piercing blue eyes staring into mine. a woman was standing directly in front of me. facing me. and then it happened.
she placed her hands on my shoulders and she opened her mouth, and began talking, and i felt as if i left this world for a few minutes. her eyes. so deep & bright. so blue. and her voice.
“you are john the baptist.”, she said without hesitation.
i had just a split second to register in my brain that what she said did not make any sense to me. and yet, i knew she was speaking about something i should hear.
with her hands still on my shoulders, she continued,
“you tell the truth. keep doing what you are doing. i see you with those girls. you are like john the baptist. just be you.”
at that moment i had no idea what was happening, and yet, knew exactly what was happening at the same time, though i couldn’t (and still can’t) explain it with words. i just remember those eyes. i felt them. they knew me. they were looking not at me, but inside me. they were not speaking to me, but to my soul. for a moment i forgot that the woman was even there. all i felt was warmth, truth, love. i felt completely known.
and then, she was gone. i don’t remember her walking away, but she did.
i turned to my girls, left my place in line, and sat down in a hard chair at the tiny round table. i was shaking. the girls said they saw the lady talking to me. “what did she say?”, they inquired. they knew something was up. they could feel it.
i told them what happened, what the lady said, how i felt. they were stunned, and yet calm. during our week in anchorage they had met amazing people themselves. people who touched them, who taught them, who inspired them – kids in poverty, homeless men & women, people living on the fringes of society, outcasts. some who chose to live that way in order to live more simply. my girls knew that amazing things happen every day, and they knew that this lady who spoke to me, had given me something amazing…
i’ve spent the past 6 years thinking about that experience off & on. i’m not sure if i have come to any more exact conclusions than i did that day. i tried not to process it too much right after it happened. i knew that i could read something into it or twist it into something else. instead, i just let it soak into my being and become part of my life. i let it become something that i returned to in my thoughts when the time was right, when it just came to me.
and so, today, i thought again of that day when the lady with the blue eyes gave me a message.
i thought of her immediately when i read & meditated this morning. today’s photo theme is “message” for a reason. we are still on our advent journey, whether we call it that or not. in fact, we have just begin. we are still waiting. we are still longing for light & love & peace. however, we wait with hope. but why do we do something so silly as to wait with hope? because, i believe we have all received a message – from each other, from our faith, from nature. we have been sent a message, that, even though the world is screwed up, even though wars, famine, injustice, violence, and suffering exist, we cling to the hope that one day all will be made whole. we believe that it can and that it will be better. that we will be made whole. that peace & love will reign.
but, what about my message? who is this john the baptist guy? well, john the baptist was a wild man. an outcast. a man who lived in the desert, ate berries & bugs, dressed in organic clothing, a went around giving a message to people that their lives could be transformed. he was a first century hippie for sure. living alone, contemplating life, and inspiring people with his words. he said that he was not the truth, but was here to point people to the truth.
though i may not have a complete understanding of the message from the blue-eyed lady, i am certain of one thing… that john and i would have been buddies. he was the cousin of jesus, and he said that he was preparing the way for jesus, preparing the people for the experience of salvation – a chance for them to be saved, to be changed, to learn what it means to be truly loved exactly as they are, and to learn to be true to who they were created to be… simply themselves.
i realize i’m speaking about john the baptist in the context of jesus right now, and while you may not believe in jesus as god in human form, perhaps we can simply meet each other in the fact that jesus taught love, acceptance, and peace. and those are things we all wish for.
john the baptist was a messenger of these things. he pointed to the one who would teach love, acceptance and peace in his life & in his death, much like ghandi, buddha, mother theresa, and many more.
and this is where our message of hope comes from. because of john, jesus, and so many others before & after, we have all been recipients of an amazing message. but, what do we do with it? the thing about this message of hope, is that it is something that i feel like i cannot just soak in and keep to myself.
so, today, i have been wondering…
what is the message i have for the world? what is my life saying? what do i want to say through my words or actions? what do people hear from me? what are you saying? what message do you have for the world?
during this time of year, why don’t we try to take a little time to ponder these things?
the lady with the blue eyes shared her message with me. i am certain it was a message from god. i am not certain of what it means. perhaps it means different things to me at different times in my life. perhaps i will use this advent season to spend some time thinking about that message that i received 6 years ago; and how i can use that message, and my life, to share the ancient message of hope & love in a new way.
i believe with all of my soul that the lady with the blue eyes confirmed for me that all i need to do in my life is to be true to who i am. i believe that is the message that we all receive. that is where our hope lies.
do you hear what i hear?