My dear friend and her husband from Switzerland just left on the plane today. I enjoyed a week of their companionship, spirit and conversations. We stayed up to all odd hours talking, and still had more to share in the morning. Her very patient husband just laughed at us girls, still talking about "what girls usually talk about, no matter what the age."
We shared ideas on lessons for Relief Society, spiritual experiences, dating experiences and recipes. On the spiritual plane, she has several friends "in High Places in the Church and community." She was kind of embarrassed to tell me who she was going up north to visit, because she thought I will think of her as a name dropper. She even went so far as to say, "I don't consider myself a better person because I know these people." I said I thought I was a better person because I knew her. What I think she meant to say was that she didn't consider herself more prestigious because of who she knows.
But having met some celebrities, I have to say, it is fun to know these people. It is fun to say I have met some of these people and talked to them face to face. My choir experiences have allowed me to mingle with some celebrities. What I have learned from this is that they, like most other people are usually down-to-earth people, and like me, they put their pants on one leg at a time.
But because I have mingled with these people and people like my Swiss friends, I consider myself richer. My experiences are richer because I have spoken with them, I have learned from them and maybe even taught them something.
The people we meet every day can have a profound effect on our lives if we will let them. We lost two good men in our community, one is my Swiss friend's dad, Don. He and his cute wife were my neighbors. I attended their 60th Anniversary. She was in a Jazzy chair and he took her by the hand and led her onto the dance floor and danced with her. He twirled her. It took some fancy foot work and Jazzy movement to appear graceful out there, and they managed. The onlookers dabbed their eyes at such a loving sight. I am richer for having known Don and Dorothy.
I once was a visiting teacher to a very humble but proud woman. Jean Carpenter was an estranged member of our congregation. She lived in this tiny house with her 40-something-year-old son who had fried his brain on drugs when he was younger. The Bishop had gone to visit and realized they had no heat, cooking stove or even a shower. He arranged for our nearly blind neighbor Brother R to help install the wood stove and shower in exchange for Jean and her son to help Brother R with his yard. They became fast friends, and considered Brother R more than a neighbor. He was more like a dad and grandpa to these two people.
But when I was assigned to be her visiting teacher, my companion and I didn't much look forward to visiting her. Her very sad house also housed two crazy dogs who thought they needed to jump on us the whole time and breathe in our faces. The rottweiler who lived by the front door nearly scared us spitless. But we persisted. It was always a challenge to our hearts and courage to even get to the door, yet alone knock.
One day after a very harrowing visit, my companion said, I don't think she wants us to come. So she talked to the RS President and asked her to take Jean off our list. A few days later, I saw Jean on Mr. R's porch. She hollered over to me that she would be home on Tuesday if we wanted to come visit. I told her that I thought I'd heard we had gotten new routes. A look of panic crossed her face as she asked who her new Visiting Teacher would be. She said she wanted me to stay. I said I'd check. When I called, I asked the RS President to change me back to Jean. I received a new companion and we continued to visit Jean.
We continued to visit and admire her tiny flower and rock garden in front of her house. One day she showed up at my house when I was gone. She had brought a plant she had potted from her flower garden and had given it to my husband to give to me, explaining what it was. He was in awe when I got home. He expressed that act of bringing me a flower was like getting a deer to eat out of my hand. He was right. She didn't do those kind of things often, but I was the grateful recipient of this rare gift.
One day I received a call from someone who identified herself as the head of the hospice workers. She told me that Jean had recently been hospitalized and upon release had been given a necklace that allowed her to call for help and Jean wanted me to know. The hospice lady explained that I was the ONLY one she would allow to tell this information to. She thought I ought to know. So we continued to visit this brave lady as she developed lumps all over her body. She was wracked with pain and eventually succumbed to breast cancer.
My point to this whole story is this: The crossing of paths is not mere happenstance. There is no such thing a coincidence. If we look for it, we will find reasons our lives are blessed with knowing others. They don't have to be neighbors, they can be located clear across the world. One can meet them in the airport or online, it doesn't matter, what matters is what you do with those meetings.
My life has been blessed and is richer having known Jean, just as my life is richer for having my sweet Swiss friend. I consider myself to be a much better person because of who I know. It is what I do with that knowledge that will help me to grow even better. Each day in my daily prayers, I pray for experiences to help me to better serve Him. I truly believe that he put us here on earth to be each other's guardian angels. If we listen, we will be allowed to act on those promptings and not only bless another's life, but our own in the process.
Its really not who you know, but how you treat who you know.