About that Book…

As part of a training program this past weekend, we had a rather odd exercise.  The task was to find three strangers, and to give each of them a dollar.  Also, to find three other strangers, and to ask for and receive a dollar.  There was a mixture of awkwardness, self judgment, and silliness as we undertook the task.  Most of us found it far easier to give a dollar away than to ask for it.  Yet even in that part, there were people who outright refused the money, almost as if there were something seriously wrong with the gift, or that perhaps they were being watched, or that maybe it was a setup.  Regardless of the reasons, many people simply could not accept an unexplained gift from a stranger.

The silliness came when parts of our class traveled in a group, and somebody up front would give a dollar away, and the recipient would then be asked by the end of the line for a dollar, and they would give back what they had just received.  Several people, myself included, were highly self-consciousness.  We were dressed reasonably well, and by looking at the faces of others whom we would ask for a dollar I could see responses ranging from surprise to confusion, to disgust.

At this point, one must be wondering what on earth this exercise could possibly be for or about.  At its core, it was about our relationship to money.  No matter how you look at it, three dollars is a trivial amount, and yet the feelings, doubts, fears, concerns, projections, and stories that we all have about money came rushing to the surface as surely as were we giving away or asking for a fortune.  If for that reason alone, there was value in the exercise.  But then I decided to go just a little farther, and at this point my story takes a turn for the bizarre.

I did not wish to travel with my peers, where the people I would encounter had just moments ago been asked to give or take a dollar by somebody else.  Instead, I wanted to go a bit farther away, and so I kept walking until I reached the bus stop in front of the opera house.  There, I found an elderly woman who was missing a few teeth and had all of her worldly possessions wrapped in a plastic bag inside a shopping cart.  She was wearing tattered cloths and kept herself warm with a blanket.  She had a plastic bag over the top of her head to keep it dry, and as she stood, she was permanently hunched forward, as if she were leaning on a cane that was not there.  This woman’s name was Edith, and I know this because she gave me a gift worth far more than the dollar that I gave to her.

You see, I had made a judgment that of the many strangers on the street, that she could probably make use of a dollar, and that to her, it might even be a considerable sum.  She had her back to me for a while, but when I met her gaze, I asked her if she would like a dollar.  She responded with a kindly “God bless you.”  At that moment, I was about to turn away and return to class, but then I hesitated.  I looked this stranger in the eye, and with all genuineness and sincerity, I asked her “How are you?” and her face lit up like angel’s.  Her voice was crisp and clean, her demeanor bright and cheerful, and her words were deeply profound.

Among many other things, including her two experiences with death, once by car and once by drowning, she had a story to tell.  Her story was of watching the paramedics working on her, and of speaking with God.  God gave her a choice to move on, or to return to earth.  She said she had no idea what moving on meant, and so she returned to her body.  She also told me that after those experiences, she knew that she could talk to God anytime that she wanted to.  And that with that unfettered access to God, she had learned that “No matter what, you never tell God what is wrong with your life.  Instead, you ask God to transform your life into something wonderful.”  Part of me wondered if she were a little crazy, but her words rang true regardless of the answer.  She said a few other things, but I kept thinking about her pearl of wisdom and how deeply it applied to my life.  But try as I might, I would have forgotten those words were it not for the following.

She asked me what I did for a living, and I told her that I am a professional coach.

“You mean like an athlete?” she asked.

I told her no, that I am a life coach.

At that she responded “Ahhh, yes, of course.  You are the one I saw in my dream last night.  God has a message for you.”

Without so much as a hint of doubt or skepticism, I smiled at her and said “I’m listening.”

“He says that you need to get started with writing that book you’ve been thinking about.”

Indeed I do.

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