Doris. Or Dorrace.
That’s what he said. I “googled” it upon returning home; apparently Doris was a popular name for boys in the 1930’s. Seems in keeping with the age I determined him to be in our moments of exchange. He was hunkered down over his cart while pushing it through the paint aisle at Lowes when he stopped just short of me.
“Ma’am, can I ask you a question?… What color would you paint a bathroom?”
I knew there was more to his question than just paint, but it served as our starting point. Every good conversation starts somewhere (usually with a question), and ours started with paint. He showed me his card of samples; I showed him mine. His included shades of brown. Mine included shades of green. We covered the generic questions in keeping with paint conversation, and then the dialogue moved to a deeper level.
“Haven’t painted the house in years, but I’ve been taking on more projects these days. It’s just me now, so it doesn’t much matter the color I choose. But she’s still with me, you know. I don’t think she’d mind all the changes. I talk to her about it every day.”
“Yep. Almost sixty years of living together. She died a year ago, but she’s still with me. She’s on the mantle in the den.”
Another starting point for a more pointed conversation… one that lasted a good thirty minutes. We covered a lot of ground in that time. Mostly I just listened to his lonely heart. Words about extended family members who’d been here for a recent visit. A collection of Hummels his wife had collected over the years. Life in Fayetteville, the traffic, and then a final probing question from my heart to his.
“What about friends, Doris? You’ve lived here so long; you must have some good friends to spend your days with.”
“Oh, I don’t have many friends. I live a pretty lonely life, but I’ve got her with me everyday. Whenever I feel alone, I just talk to her.”
And my heart broke into a thousand pieces as I listened. I reached into my purse, grabbed a piece of paper and wrote my name, along with my husband’s name and phone number, onto it and handed it to Doris.
“You’ve got two friends now, Doris, and when you get that bathroom painted, we’d really love to stop by for a visit and take a look. Everyone needs a few good friends, and I’d like to be yours.”
He said that he’d call; I hope that he does, but I don’t imagine he will. Something tells me he’s not quite ready to let a stranger through the front door. That’s OK with me; I much prefer the access of a back door friend. Back door friends talk about everything… soul things, whether over a cup of coffee at Starbucks or in the paint aisle at Lowes. Perhaps thirty minutes was all that was meant for our paths… his crossing mine and mine crossing his.
Sacred intersections… that’s what I call them. Two roads that collide to further God’s kingdom work. A moment that stands at a crossroads where two hearts connect intentionally, purposefully, non-coincidentally, perfectly timed and orchestrated by God and feeling as natural as the air we breathe. I’ve had a few of them in recent days. Not as many as I would like, but just enough to remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing with my days…
Not just in things, or endeavors, or plans, or goals, but more importantly, investing my time and energies into people. I cannot always pick when that happens, don’t always have the luxury of planning my sacred intersections. I much prefer it that way. Plans can sometimes be full of pretense and projected outcomes. I’d rather let the intersections arrive as they will and along the way. God knows when they’re coming; he sees them from afar and is more than capable of making sure that my heart is prepared for their arrival.
So tonight I think about Doris. I think about the joy I would have missed if his cart had not connected with mine. I think about my big God who sat back and watched the exchange… entered into the exchange, even though his voice deferred to mine in that moment. And I am thankful for the privilege of being his conduit of kingdom dispensation.
He’s trusted me with so much… the mystery and the secrets of the kingdom. He has committed to me the ministry of reconciliation… of being his mouthpiece as though he were making his appeal through me (2 Cor. 5:18-20). I cannot conceive of his choice, his trust and his willingness to allow me any measure of influence upon this earth. Instead, I can only receive it as yet another grace from his heart.
I don’t always get it right, friends, don’t always speak God’s witness as I should. Sometimes I keep my silence; sometimes I say too much, but every now again, a Doris-moment comes along, and I know that it was pretty close to perfect.
His path crossing mine; mine crossing his.
An investment of the richest kind.
I may never stand before a crowd of thousands or see my name in lights on this side of eternity, but you can be certain I’ll wake up every day to have that kind of sacred intersection. Some days it’s all I can do, all that I have to give, all that keeps me going when little else in my life is making sense, and trust me when I tell you that life doesn’t “feel” sensible right now. Even so, I pray the Lord to keep me to all that I can do and all that I have to give and to let my tomorrow be filled with more intersections and investments of the kingdom kind.
The Doris kind.
I pray the same for all of you this week. As always…
Peace for the journey,
PS: Thank you for all of the kind comments on “the Goody Bag” and for visiting Judith’s new blog. I made sure to include your name in the drawing, whether you posted a comment here and/or there. Miss Amelia just drew the winner prior to going to bed. Jennifer @ The Spirit of Truth is the winner. Send me your address, Jennifer, via e-mail, and I’ll have your book to you this week. Shalom.