“Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them.” -Albert Schweitzer
There’s a certain pleasant sameness to my beach mornings at Playa Lagartillo: studying hermit crabs, pelicans, and wave patterns and chatting briefly with the Tico owner of Lulu, who strolls the shore daily around 8 a.m. But one morning strayed from the routine.
Then, as I approached the beach from the elevated, dusty, red dirt road protected from the searing sun by overarching leafy branches and paused to survey the low tide flats and typically deserted beach, I saw Gen Z Blondie about 100 meters north from where I stood. She was heading determinedly south on a fitness walk in her sports bra and running shorts and shoes.
Keeping close to the water’s edge, where the sand was firmer, GZB proceeded with alacrity, earbuds replacing the roar of the ocean with what, I guessed in retrospect, may have been something inspirational and fundamentalist Christian: a podcast or music. On her return, she gazed toward me, hesitated briefly, then removed her ear buds, approached, and smiled.
“Excuse me,” she began, “this may sound a bit weird, but I got a sudden impulse and wanted to know if you’d mind my giving you a blessing.”
Judging from her friendly, confident manner and radiating joy, her solid physique, exposed dark roots, and lack of a distinctive dialect, I guessed she was American from somewhere not in the northeast or south. While I am generally annoyed by individuals exhibiting an unwavering conviction regarding unverifiable ‘truths’, I intuited her compelling desire and was curious to learn how this experience would unfold.
“Sure,” I responded.
“My name is Ashley, what’s yours?” she inquired.
“Michelle. It’s nice to meet you, Ashley.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too, Michelle.” And then, she lauched into her impromptu blessing.
“Dear Lord,” Ashley began, “I’m grateful for your bringing Michelle into my life this sunny morning. If there is anything troubling her or if she’s encountering difficulties in any aspect of her life, I pray that they are resolved happily.”
She spoke unhesitatingly, eyes closed. Her words were endearing and heartfelt. Just as when I participated in a worldwide, group meditation in Spring 2020 intended to end the COVID-19 pandemic; I figured it could do no harm. Somehow, the blessing didn’t feel awkward; it actually felt good, an affirmation of human goodness after an unsettling dog attack several days earlier that resulted in a series of puncture wounds and a lost Omega watch, my trusted companion of 25 years.
“Jesus guided me to approach you and I try to heed everything He tells me,” she explained.
“Thank you, Ashley, I really appreciate your taking the initiative. We all do our part to make the world a better place to live, right?”
“Yes,” she answered. “And I hope that you find it in your heart to accept Jesus as your personal savior,” a rejoinder I expected. “Have a great day,” Ashley concluded as she pressed her earbuds into place and turned northward.
The encounter evoked Jessie Colin Young’s words “we are but a moment’s sunlight, fading in the grass” from “Come Together,” a song that urges listeners to love their neighbors as themselves, a sentiment reflected also in Bob Marley’s “One Love.” Individuals have varying ideas of ways to comfort fellow creatures and to facilitate their flourishing, and such empathy and altruism represent positive forces in the world. Did she really recognize my mental/spiritual state, I wondered? Even when I disagree with the particulars of a mitzvah, I appreciate the pure intentions that inspire it. That’s a kind of religion, right? Perceiving and fostering the goodness in others. I appreciated my beach blessing much more than I would have expected and wonder how young Ashley’s path will unfold.
A lovely, no strings attached, blessing.
The only kind I accept!!