February 8, 2017- A Call to “Now”
(The following is an excerpt from Kundtz’s book, Awakened Mind: One-Minute Wake Up Calls)
“You are in a beautiful city and you are safe.”
I was wandering around the Vancouver Airport feeling annoyed. I just learned that my flight was delayed five hours, maybe more, due to bad weather on the California coast. Uggh! Disrupted plans.
I decided to take advantage of the moment and get a shoe-shine. The woman had a smile on her face as she invited me to take a seat, and she spoke with a strong accent; I guessed she was from Africa. She asked me where I was traveling and when I told her, I added, “but my flight is delayed at least five hours and it will probably be a lot longer than that; it may even be cancelled.” I’m sure she noted my frustration.
She was silent for fully two or three minutes as she polished my shoes. Then she looked up at me: “But you are in a beautiful city; and you are safe,” she said softly, and resumed her work.
It took me a few seconds to identify her words as a response to mine. When I did, I too smiled.
Her words transformed my airport-delay experience from one of stress-producing frustration to one of simply living in the moment and accepting what happens simply as what happens. A gift from a woman poor in the world’s goods and services, rich in the inner life; freely, thoughtfully given to a stranger passing through; generous too.
I have since wondered what was going on in her mind and heart during the two or three minutes between the end of my remarks and the beginning of hers. What prompted her to respond as she did? I can only conclude that it was simply an expression of the mindfulness that has become a way of life for her, an articulation of who she was.
When I paid her and was leaving, I said, “Thanks very much―and not just for the shoe shine.” She smiled