There is something about an early morning (6-ish) walk through one’s neighborhood: cool air on the face, not a single car in motion, quiet glow from only some of the homes. As I pass my neighbors I try to imagine the day/week that lay before them. How many troubles? How many victories? How many joys, pains, losses and anxieties are waiting for them? “Lord, have mercy.”
The other benefit of an early rise is that I get my favorite booth at the local bagel shop and my favorite grumpy-man-face-mug, filled with locally roasted coffee.
Reading for the morning is Luke 12:22-34. “What worries or concerns do I want to let go of before I begin my week?”
“If you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters” v. 26
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” v.32
. . . . .
Last thursday. It was the end of a long day, already dark outside and I just wanted to stay home, but Aimee insisted that I would regret it if I didn’t go. So, I put on a nice shirt and headed downtown. That evening was the 49-day Memorial Ceremony for Houn Kyogen Carlson, an honorable and renowned Zen Buddhist leader here in Portland who recently passed away.
It was an undeniably fascinating service that I might tell you about one day, but that is not the topic of this entry.
After the service I was in the foyer of the First Unitarian Church, where the memorial was held, and, standing alone, I was approached by a handsome African man.
“Tony Kriz,” he said. I regret that I did not know who he was, but he clearly knew me. “Tony Kriz, I have been looking for you for months and here you are.”
“Really?” I said and searched my brain for our connection. Then I realized that we had briefly met years before. I was filming some promotions for my last book, “Neighbors and Wise Men” and the filmmaker asked me to sit next to two men at the bar so he could get a shot of me chatting with others. That was it, a few seconds clip sitting at the bar at the Horse Brass pub.
That was when he told me this story (please forgive me any mistaken details):
“Tony, I was home in Uganda this summer and while I was there I met an old friend of mine. She said to me, ‘I saw you in a video online.’ When I asked her what video, she said that it was a promotional video for a book. Then she told me that she had read your book and enjoyed it so much that she went online looking for more information about it and that is when she found the video. Tony, she wanted me to tell you that your book has made it to Uganda. She was very blessed by your words and encouraged in her spirit.”
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Just think about the number of “coincidences” that had to happen to make this encounter possible… at a Buddhist Memorial in the foyer of a Unitarian Church. Here are a few:
- Random encounter at a pub years ago, which happened to be memorialized in a promotional video.
- My book somehow makes it to… Uganda!
- One person reads it and thinks to research it online.
- She happens to know a man in the video, which was filmed on the other side of the world.
- She passes along a word of encouragement.
- The man happens to see me again (years later) at a Buddhist Memorial.
As I walked away from the First Unitarian Church, reflecting on these coincidences, the undeniable feeling I had was this… It was like God was giving me a soft slug in the shoulder and saying, “Keep it up, kid.”
As you start your Monday, my hope for you is that you hear these words, “Keep it up, kid.”
. . . . .