Monday, June 15, 2009
You Are an Utterly Precious Gift of God
Indigo clouds hovered over Boulder, threatening heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. Typically I like this kind of weather, but yesterday I’d planned a Free Hugs event to take place on the Pearl Street Mall (outdoors for those of you not familiar with the Boulder area). It sprinkled a short bit and my 14 year old son, his friend, a friend of mine and I held our Free Hugs signs and let the hugging begin. As anyone who has participated in Free Hugs, it is very inspiring and such a simple way to spread joy.
After an hour passed by, I noticed an attractive woman of about 70 years, wearing large dark sunglasses, situate her wheel chair twenty feet from where I stood. She smoked a cigarette. I have not yet quit smoking. I told my son and his friend that I was going to go join this woman for a cigarette.
“Do you mind if I smoke an evil cigarette with you?” I asked.
She laughed. “Please do.”
I detected a slight sophisticated southern accent in her voice. She wore a stylish jacket and black slacks. Her dark hair shined—not a hair out of place. I lit my cigarette and we discussed the run on rainy weather we were having. I told her that I lived in Fort Collins (an hour north of Boulder). We both agreed it was nice that it was only overcast at the present moment. While we continued this small chat, the woman in the wheel chair stubbed out her cigarette. Almost immediately a man who had been standing at a nearby kiosk marched right up to the two of us—talking while marching.
“Okay. That’s it. My customers don’t want to smell your cigarettes.” Instantly I stubbed out my cigarette and showed it to the man. He continued, “You know Boulder is trying to pass a law about smoking outside. You’d think you would have more consideration.”
After putting my hands together in the Namaste prayer fashion, I said, “I put the cigarette out. It’s over. I apologize.”
“What’s with you people?” the man asked. “You’ve been there for an hour smoking.”
I held up the snuffed out cigarette as he belabored the point. “Sir, I’m basically a good person and I do have a fault. I smoke. As soon as you said something I put the cigarette out and neither of us has been here for more than a minute or two.”
The woman in the wheel chair raised her hand in a sign of “stop” to the man. She put her hand on my arm. “Ignore him. So tell me about what you are doing over there with the free hugs.”
“Really, I said, “it’s about making yourself and others feel good. Some people come running for the hugs, some avoid us, others want a hug and their picture taken while giving us a hug. Several people from around the world with whom I work have recently returned from South Africa where we presented Archbishop Desmond Tutu with a Spiritual Leadership award.”
The woman placed her hand over her heart. “Child, you are so blessed. South Africa! Archbishop Desmond Tutu! Do you believe in chance meetings?”
“No ma’am, I do not.”
“Neither do I. What is your name?” she asked.
I told her and asked her name.
“My name is Patricia Jeanene Dimick.” (For privacy this is not the name she gave me.) Patricia enunciated each syllable of each name with such power and grace all at once. “I used to be beautiful. That’s in the past. I’m 71. My daughter died—oh what a loss—and left behind two small children. I had open heart surgery six months ago. My marriage isn’t what I’d like it to be. I have a staff infection in my leg—the reason I’m in this wheelchair right now.”
The southern accent gave such a passionate flavor to this list of less than happy circumstances. I couldn’t see her eyes through the dark sun glasses so I wasn’t sure of her state.
“Patricia, you still are beautiful—”
“I’m a simpleton and I’ll be the first to tell anyone. It’s all so simple. A free hug. A smile. Our friend over there at the kiosk doesn’t get that it’s so simple. With all of the things I just told you, I still wake up every morning and say ‘thank you, God.’”
I bent over and hugged Patricia. “It is simple.”
“Child, you have made my day.”
“It has been an honor to speak with you today, Patricia. I’m going to give you something.”
I walked over to where my flyers about unity and Oneness lie on the brick wall and picked one up and walked back to Patricia. After writing my name and email address on the flyer, I told Patricia to contact me. “Look at Humanity’s Team website. I think you’ll like it.”
“I don’t fuss with computers.”
I took the flyer back and wrote my phone number on it and handed it back to her, pointing out the picture of myself with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. “I’m helping to present the award to him here.”
Patricia raised her sleeves to show me her goose bumps. “Those are real.”
“I have to go Patricia, but you call me some time. And before I go, I’m going to leave you with the words that Archbishop Tutu left with those of us presenting him the award.” I held both of Patricia’s hands in mine and leaned my face close into hers. “You are a precious gift of God. You are an utterly precious gift. God loves you like you are the only person on the earth. Now, go be who you are—go be who you are.”
Patricia raised her sun glasses to show me the tears in her eyes. “This is joy. Today is destiny. If I died right this minute, I’d die happy.”
I hugged her again and assured her that she had made my day as well. It really is simple.