The night before Christmas Eve, I was busily walking from the bank to the store to my car to the post office… and all the while I was doing business on the phone with several different people and at various times throughout the day. At one point, while walking outside from my car to the drug store, I said something funny to the person I was talking to on the phone that was strapped to my side and the earpiece of which was in my ear.
I don’t know if the seemingly homeless woman sitting outside in the cold thought that I was talking to her or not. In fact, I think she knew I was on the phone, because she didn’t respond to my comment, except to laugh out loud, look into my eyes and giving the biggest, sincerest smile I bet she had given in a long time.
I was surprised and pleasantly so, and gave her a smile and even chuckled that I had even made the homeless woman laugh. I made no mention of this during my business call and went into the store and went about my business there and my business on the phone.
When I came out of the store, I was still engaged on the phone, but I saw the woman sitting there, and I recalled a friend who works with the homeless and his words which were, don’t give them a hand out, give them a hand. In other words, he was advocating that people need home, friendship, to know they are people and valued. I was hurrying, as we often do, but I slowed my pace down and I looked into her eyes and smiled, all the while talking on the phone. I didn’t speak a word to her, but as I slowly passed, I put my hand on her shoulder and rest it there for a split second.
I turned my gaze back in the direction of my car and as I started to remove my hand, it met her arm, which she must have brought up in response to my touch. And as I slowly walked away, as if the world started moving in slow motion, and as I was pulling my hand away, it maintained contact with her the length of her arm, until it came to her hand which was open and waiting for mine.
How this all happened in a split second I will not know, but our hands connected and for a moment we held hands, and then it was done. I almost turned around to see what had just happened and to see if it had had the same affect on her that it had had on me. But I didn’t, I was once again wrapped up in my conversation and thinking about where I was “headed” and all the things I had to do.
But in that moment, two souls connected and spoke to each other in a way, in a place, in a moment that possibly neither one of us were expecting, certainly I wasn’t. Looking back, it was very strange, and yet there was nothing strange about it. And though she was a stranger, she didn’t seem like a stranger anymore.
All because, I touched a stranger… or did a stranger touch me?