“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!