Friday, May 6, 2016

An Amazing Encounter

Over a decade ago I traveled to Washington DC to visit dear friends, Don and Bette Farrer. During the course of that visit, I was privileged to be introduced to Don's close friend Jerry Eisley. We shared a lunch at the National Gallery of Art. The entire time there created a lifelong memory. One that I revisit often. One that left me extremely thankful for making the trip as it was to be the last time spent with Don and Bette on this earth.

Sadly, both Don and Bette have passed away and the world is without two amazing people. But they have a tremendous legacy that lives on. It lives on in the relationships of the friends left behind on this earth. Don was a dear friend, through him I inherited another true friend, Jerry Eisely.

Albeit memorable, the encounter at the National Gallery was brief and was well before the days of the social networking capabilities that make it much easier to stay connected. Subsequently, that was to be the first and only encounter that I would have with Jerry. So I thought.

Fast forward to the year 2010 and I was working part of my time in DC. On more than one lonely night, I found myself wishing my dear friends Don and Bette were still there. I imagined the wonderful times that might be had visiting with them. However, there was one hope, locate our mutual friend Jerry. The great challenge was that I that my memory of Jerry included no particulars about where he lived in the DC area and not one clue or lead as to how to locate him. Furthermore, over 10 years had past. Jerry may not even live in the area.

After work one evening, I was invited by coworkers to attend a screening of a film on the subject of reconciliation within the country of Rwanda. I arrived at the synagogue, located my friends and settled in for a fascinating experience. In no way was I disappointed. The film was incredibly inspiring. Little did I know that the experience was not to end with the screening. Well over a couple hundred people in attendance were invited to the basement for refreshments.

Doing my best to engage people in conversation amidst the din of countless others voices, I gave up and retreated to the wall where I was standing by a table of drinks. Shortly after making my retreat, I was the recipient of the most gracious smile from a person. Although I did not know the individual, I felt as if I was looking into the eyes of a family member.  As I walked over and said, "Please forgive me but I feel as though we have met." She was kind but clearly there was no recognition. She said, "Maybe you know my husband. Jerry." In a split second my mind raced as I thought..."It's not possible, could this the "Jerry," my long lost acquaintance? In fact, it was!

I introduced myself to to him as a friend of Don Farrer's and reminded him that we had met many years ago. I said it would be a great treat to meet sometime and reminisce about our friend who had past years ago. He agreed. I gave him my card in hopes that he might contact me again.

Later that night, I was gripped with the thought that he might lose the card and with it the chance to reconnect with this great man. I was kicking myself for not getting his information. Just before closing my eyes for sleep that night, a text came in. It was Jerry. Contact!

Since that happy and serendipitous reunion, we have shared many memories of Don, shared meals at a favorite Mexican restaurant near the National Cathedral and enjoyed a walk through the Bishop's Garden.

I am stunned and amazed how God orchestrates our lives. Coincidence? I think not. I don't believe this world spins by randomness. My journey as been arduous and difficult these past few years. Yet, amidst it all God has offered the most amazing moments to remind me that He's there. He gives encounters that sustain and lift our spirits.

My friend Jerry is a wonderful human being who is navigating difficult days as his wife, Twila walks a path that has seen health matters steal away precious moments from their life here on earth. Their life together demonstrates to me how precious time and friendships are. I am grateful to God for a reminder to live with a sense of sober wonder. Taking each day as a potential for an amazing encounter.