On the way to our mailbox down the street, I noticed a woman slowly rolling a large tire from her car to the side of her garage. My first thought was, “She shouldn’t be doing that. I’ll unload her tires for her.”
But then she fell and together we couldn’t get her up. So I called Dan who showed up just as a young couple from down the street happened by.
The four of us managed to get Mary from a sitting position to one foot on the ground with bent knee. From there, we could easily lift her to her feet.
Dan stacked her snow tires to the side of the garage while the couple and I left our names and phone numbers with the admonition to please call if she ever needed help with anything.
I suspect Mary’s the type who won’t call—the type who will try to stack her own snow tires—before she bothers anyone else.
Which is why I plan to check in on her from time to time. A new acquaintance—some would call it accidental—and another person I plan to keep in my life.
And then there are the “not accidental” people.
Dan and I camped over Memorial Day weekend with 110 mostly family members. It was the 54th annual gathering of the Johnson clan.
My daughter and I were twinning (accidentally) … only she runs a tight shipwreck while I hike more and worry less
This is Dan’s third year attending my deceased husband’s family reunion. Weird, right?! But not really … because these people consider me a sister, and they introduce Dan as a brother-in-law.
There is no coincidence in any of that.
No coincidence in how I met my first husband at the third or fourth annual Johnson family reunion when his sister invited me to camp for the weekend.
No coincidence that he and I married and that we lived in Bend, Oregon, when cancer stole him from me.
No coincidence that, although I had to move from Bend, circumstances brought me back and affordable housing materialized.
No coincidence that I met Dan on the day I interviewed him for a story about the shower truck that provides hot showers for the homeless in our town. And that hiking and snowshoeing together in the nearby Cascade Range eventually turned into love and marriage.
And now—full circle back to the Johnson family reunion—there is no coincidence that these people accept and love and tease Dan as if he had married into the family. Which he did.
As for meeting Mary, I usually walk the long way around—a mile loop—when checking our mail. This time, for some reason, I headed down our street where I happened upon Mary. Not accidental, but by divine appointment.
It was Augustine who said:
You are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.Augustine
There are so many people in close connection with me—blood relatives and otherwise, neighbors, old friends and new, my writing critique group and women’s Bible study, our Life Group and church family, and camping friends from Dan’s childhood.
Each one, a gift.
One of the experts in the law during Christ’s time on earth tested Him with a question: “What is the greatest commandment?”
“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”Matthew 22:37-38
Then, without being asked, Jesus went on to name the second greatest commandment:
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”Matthew 22:39
So, what to do with the ‘so-called accidental’ and the ‘on-purpose’ people in our lives?
Love them. In as many creative ways as possible.
Listen as they unburden their hearts. Help them put together their Ikea furniture. Give them rides to the airport. Watch their kids. Bake bread for them. Pick them up from the concrete when they fall.
Love them. Because no one is accidentally in your life.