My lenten discipline has been a challenge at best. I promised myself that I will leave my apartment, once a week, for a non-work-related experience where I could potentially make friends. I will do this on my own so I am forced to talk to new people. I have failed at this. Each week comes and goes and I find a reason why staying home is preferable. (I am a homebody… I can’t help it.)
So, a few weeks ago I bought a ticket to what I thought was an Irish fiddling concert at my favorite local Irish pub. Good frugal New Englander than I am, I knew if I spent $27 I wasn’t about to bail on it!!! So I spent the money on a single, will-call ticket and let it be. Little did I know: this was to be the longest week of my priesthood thus far. I left work tired — bone tired. The kind of tired one is when she would rather hibernate for a season than go to a pub and pretend to be extroverted. But I still went…
I arrived to discover that this Irish pub reserved my ticket under a misspelled, Brit-ruined, no O nor apostrophe version of my name… strike one. Then I learned the show was not a fiddle concert it was a play about fiddlers… strike two! Finally, the show started and I saw that only one man, in the band, played the fiddle! The actors were badly pantomiming to his playing. I tried to like the play, but I just couldn’t. It wasn’t at all what I’d hoped for. Feeling sad and dejected I paid my tab and walked into the bitter cold night during intermission. As I walked towards my car, trying to convince myself that just going out was a success, I ran into a lost woman about my age. She asked for directions to a particular bus only for me to tell her that she was walking in the wrong direction. I felt so bad: it is freezing cold with a bitter wind tonight, and this poor girl who I assumed was from away, was set to walk home.
In that moment I took a chance we are told not to take in this day and age: I asked, “Would you like a ride?” We both laughed. I explained that I was just heading home to walk my dog and I really didn’t mind. She laughed and contemplated this abnormal offer and finally said, “You don’t seem crazy.”I assured her I wasn’t crazy and off we went to my car. I told her that I am a priest to which she replied that she is Jewish. We had a good, comical conversation spurred on by the fact that neither of us have been in such a situation before. I drove her to her friend’s house and learned that she is, in fact, visiting town. We laughed and smiled. She offered a hug when I dropped her off. I drove home with a huge smile across my face. Our interaction was healing and Spirit filled.
When I left the pub I felt like a failure. I felt like I shouldn’t bother trying to meet new folks because it always seems to be a comedy of errors (did I mention the creepy man who kept trying to get my number until he asked what I do for a living?) But on the sidewalk, a chance interaction, redeemed the night. Ruach is present all around us… we must simply be open to Her fanciful dance.