We took a day trip to nearby Eureka Springs on Memorial Day. It’s a neat place–the entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Victorian houses, quaint B&B’s, quirky craft shops, and opportunitistic restaurants and snack shops line the tree-lined, hilly streets. It had been a few years since we visited, so I mistakenly turned on the first street which said “Historic Loop”. It turned out that was the long way to the main business district, but at least the ride through town was scenic. It was a lucky mistake in that the girls had never seen anything like it. I was just pointing out the enormous old Crescent Hotel which gives haunted tours, when I took a second wrong turn. I mistook the hotel’s winding driveway for the winding main street. We decided we might as well get out and take a few pictures of the magnificent building. When we did, we noticed a picturesque small church down the side of the hill. We had just started down the path along the church’s garden when we heard a voice call out “Girls!”. We looked back and saw an elderly woman calling to us from her car, stopped where it shouldn’t be, right in front of the walkway. She told us she wasn’t feeling well and needed to borrow our cell phone to call someone to come and get her. We waited with her the 15 minutes until her family came, giving her a soda from our cooler in an attempt to refresh her. We learned that she is on strong medication for cancer, which has prevented her from sleeping well for the last month. They have lived in Eureka Springs for over 20 years but are thinking of moving back to Fayetteville where they would have better access to medical care. She tries to go to the chapel for Mass every day, which is where we found her…Mass had been cancelled for the holiday, but she had not known that. Shortly, she was on her way with her family, and we resumed our tour of the beautiful little chapel and its grounds, and then on to visit the many neat shops in town with the other tourists.
Two wrong turns put us in that nice lady’s path. Or did those wrong turns put her in our path, or both? While we talked, waiting, she told me about her parish’s priest, who they are losing soon to a larger parish. He has a way of explaining things in a way people can understand. He recently explained the Holy Spirit as the love created when God gazed on His Son Jesus, who gazed back at God with love in return. She said she’d never really understood the concept of the Holy Spirit before, always visualizing it as a puzzling, small bird, but that she easily understands the concept of overwhelming love. The lesson had been a blessing to her. It’s funny what you can know about someone in a short time when they don’t have the normal barriers put up.
How many times does chance put us in somebody’s path, with an opportunity to make a small difference at that moment in their lives? And how often do we have the opportunity to be blessed in return for serving them in some small way? I am always in such a hurry, but I’m grateful that on this holiday I had the good sense to go slower than normal and be willing to seize the moment to stop for a photo op, along with an unexpected blessing that we won’t forget. I need to go slower more often.
“When you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure that you are always blessed in abundance.” –Joel Osteen