“Bashert”

“I never stop to talk to others when I’m out walking for exercise,” he remarked after we’d already been talking for more than fifteen minutes. We had converged on a water fountain at the base of a large water tower dominating Hilltop Road in our neighborhood. My wife Bobbi and I often make that our destination for an evening walk. We had just finished taking turns for a long drink before heading back to our home. A smiling stranger arrived for the same purpose, and his congenial, inquisitive nature got the better of him.

So we stood and talked. Cordial greetings became an engaging exchange about family, house purchases, community history, and a sense of awe or gratitude at how things work out in life. He was seasoned with a few more years, but active physically and mentally. I noticed how much I was enjoying his company even if it extended our planned time for the walk. Bobbi seemed to feel the same, and said so afterwards. Several times we started to pull away and head off in our different directions, and then some new point of contact or overlapping interest was discovered. Finally, after a half hour of delightful conversation, we happened to figure out that he was the uncle of a neighbor who had recently moved from across the street. It added another whole layer to our enthusiasm for the moment we shared at a water fountain.

By that point he knew my profession as a Presbyterian pastor. We also knew he was rooted in the Jewish faith. He reached his hand out to my elbow and held it as he said, “In Yiddish we have a word, bashert, that means ‘it was meant to be.’ I think our time here, our random intersection at the water fountain, is bashert. I am so glad I walked this way tonight and I met you both.” He knew of our impending move to FL and that we would not have any more chance encounters at the water tower. But the cheerful, hearty half-hour was enough. It was bashert. We bid farewell fondly, as if conferring a blessing upon each other.

Just a few minutes later, on our return walk, his niece (our former neighbor whom we had not seen for several months!) drove by and stopped to greet us. We were thrilled to report that we had just enjoyed meeting her uncle. How wonderful to sense the meant-to-be encounters and opportunities that God sets before us. Yet I wonder how many of them I have missed because I was in a hurry, or because I don’t stop to talk when I’m walking for exercise, or because I just don’t notice someone smiling or grimacing with pain. Let’s stay alert to the opportunities to bless one another in the daily walk of life!

One anothering

My occasional ventures into blogging at this site will intend to enhance our “one anothering” in the spirit of Jesus who said:

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”      John 13:34-35 NRSV

The Biblical Greek word for the reciprocal pronoun “one another” is allelous, so that works as the title for this blog-site.  In one of my favorite chapters (Romans 12), Paul declares that we are “one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another.”  Then he proceeds to several imperatives:

  • Love one another with mutual affection.
  • Outdo one another in showing honor.
  • Live in harmony with one another.

This kind of allelous living is my prayer, my starting point for reflection, and a focus for pastoral leadership.  I also welcome your insights and experiences.  After all, one anothering is reciprocal!