Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The ten dollar 'Nudge'

I wasn't even supposed to be on this particular bus but, as luck would have it, providence was on my side. I had originally intended to catch the 8:30 bus downtown, just as soon as Steph got back from dropping the kids off from school. However, the school drop took longer than expected and I decided to wait for the 9:15 bus rather than try driving like a maniac to make the 8:30 bus. On this morning, I decided to try taking the 'slow road' rather than trying to live life in the fast lane -- for the 8:30 bus is an express bus that makes no stops until it reaches downtown, while the 9:15 bus makes several stops before reaching downtown.

Steph dropped me off at the bus stop about 10 minutes early, and I decided to read a bit from 'Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who's Already There' by Leonard Sweet. And I read these words:

Call them "coincidences," "chance encounters," "God-incidences," or, my favorite, "godwinks," randomness is a reflection of the fact that spiritual forces move mysteriously and "blow where they will." But that very unpredictability is what brings life. Call godwinks "stealth nudges."

A few minutes later the 9:15 bus pulls into the bus stop, and I along with several others begin to board this bus. A few people get on before me, so I end up in a seat several rows back on the right and, after looking around (trying to 'pay attention'), I settled in to read a bit more; at the bottom of page 103 I came across these words:

How many things do we attend without attention? Pay attention to ordinary things where realizing that there is no such thing as "ordinary." Nothing is ordinary. All things are out of the ordinary. Everything that exists is extraordinary and holds the secrets of the universe within itself. We need the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the nose to smell, the mouth to taste, and the hands to touch. Be transfixed by the ordinary so that you can see what you thought was ordinary is really a transfiguration.

As I turned to the next page, my bookmark slipped out of the book and fell into the gap between the seat and the side of the bus. I peered into the gap looking for my bookmark and found it there along with a ten dollar bill. Was it a coincidence that I was on that bus, in that seat, reading 'Nudge', and having a bookmark in this book (I normally dog ear rather than use a bookmark), and then have the bookmark fall out so that I find ten dollars?

As I pondered this chain of events, I started to put the ten dollar bill into my wallet but then decided against it and kept it in my hand. Why would I, who has no need of ten dollars, but rarely carry any cash find it? My only conclusion was that I would cross paths with someone in need of it today, so I was again paying attention to those around me. Was it someone on this bus? No one stood out. I searched the people at each stop, ready to step off if needed. The lady with the young child? No. The man in the wheel chair? No. The woman with the bandaged foot? No.

When the bus reached my regular stop, I knew exactly who I was going to give the ten dollars to. I was so stunned that the person to whom I should give it to was at my stop, that I almost forgot to get off the bus. There he was, a truly homeless, and downcast man. He wasn't one of the fake homeless people that you run across.. the kind that dress the part but are far to clean and go around asking for money. Rather, he looked like he had been rolling in the dirt and smelled like he hadn't bathed in ages. He wasn't bothering anyone; he just sat still looking at his feet, trying to look in invisible. So I sat down next to him and I told him this same story. He looked nervous and kept looking down, but nodded a bit to show he was listening. Then I told him that I believed that God wanted him to have the ten dollars and placed it in his hands. Then he finally looked at me, and I could see gratitude in his eyes; he started whispering 'Bless you, bless you, bless you' over and over again. I patted him on the shoulder and said 'May God Bless you as well', and went on to work knowing that God has spoken and I was able to bless another because I took the time to listen.