Melissa from Cuthbert

January 22, 2012 - Hiawassee, Georgia, United States

Transcedence....those moments when some needed truth, some necessary message is made available to us...if only we see and listen...is such a profound thing.  And the messenger of transcedence...the carrier of the the timely wisdom can often be very surprising.

Meet Melissa, from Cuthbert, S. Georgia...a waitress at Huddle House, where Randy and I started our last day out on the road before returning home for our current home time.  A black, late 30s to early 40s women, with a peaceful smile.  Obviously that "peaceful" smile got my attention.  I wanted to know more about her...to understand her peace.  Thus began a very warm conversation...sitting over my breakfast at the bar counter.

Asking how she found her way to Cuthbert...I listened with a bit of difficulty understanding her deep southern drawl...but of course this added to the charm of the moment...something about uniqueness, different culture...etc.  I asked how the economy had affected her...and she proceeded to tell me that her life had been dramatically changed...and that she was rebuilding her life.  Two years ago her mother died, also her grandfather who was loving to her, she then lost her job due to the economy, she had a hard time managing her life and all the emotions, which resulted in drug use...and she lost custody of her 5 children.  She was devasted, numb, had no reason to live.

She was telling all of this with a grounded sense of peace...of being on the other side.  Just enough emotion to let you know that all of this was real, and profoundly painful, yet there was a anchored sense about her...being on the other side...looking back, feeling profound gratitude about having survived, having learned  profound lessons, and that now her life was on track.  I asked her what helped her to turn the corner...and what kept her going.  She said..."my children."  Her children meant the world to her....and it was the deepest pain of all...loosing them.  It gave her a will to live...a reason to get up every morning...and this deep desire is what pulled her through and ultimately gave her the strength to reclaim life...to fend off "grinch" who would steal her heart...saying that it was too painful to be alive.

I was profoundly moved....this was a sacred moment for me.  Of all places....Cuthbert, GA in a Huddle House...and some profound truths...inspirations...were immediately before me.  I told her that my life was also in profound transition...and that I have to remind myself of the importance of the moment...sometimes not knowing what the future may bring...and learning to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  She smiled....as if knowing so well what I was referring to.  There was a mystical moment of warmth between us...I felt profound gratitude.  In that moment there was a sense of peace...and the lonliness of my current journey was washed away...

Martin Buber...the esteemed Jewish Philosopher had some very rich things to say about moments like this.  He spoke about the "quality" of "encounters" between people....giving them different names.  He identified the "I - It" relationship...which is the predominant style of relating...according to him.  It's characterized by objectifying the person into something less than truly personal.  Rather than truly making ourselves completely available to the other person, understanding them, sharing totally with them, really talking with them, we observe them or keep part of ourselves outside the moment of relationship. We do so either to protect our vulnerabilities or to get them to respond in some preconceived way, to get something from them. Buber calls such an interaction I-It.

In contrast...he identifies what he called the "I-Thou" relationship. It is possible, notes Buber, to place ourselves completely into a relationship, to truly understand and "be there" with another person, without masks, pretenses, even without words. Such a moment of relating he called "I-Thou." Each person comes to such a relationship without preconditions. The bond thus created enlarges each person, and each person responds by trying to enhance the other person. The result is true dialogue, true sharing.  And you know it when it happens.  It's mystical.

One of my mentors used to call these moments "Trialogue."  Each person in a dialogue...encounters something beyond each of them...some transcedent quality of communication that ends up blessing and enriching each of the souls who are in this moment of encounter together.

Thank you Melissa...it was profoundly enriching sharing a moment of I-Thou with you...I sincerely wish you peace, health, happiness, and joy along the rest of your journey....

 


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3 Comments

Diana and Jay Singer:
January 22, 2012
Yes, that was a REAL moment, I would say.
So glad you finally found our blog albeit not as reflective as yours! Diana
Dad:
January 22, 2012
Such a moving episode of life by the two of you. Thanks for allowing me in on this beautiful story.
Gloria:
January 23, 2012
I love hearing about experiences like this. I've had a few "along the way" and there's something very special about connecting with a stranger...you know you'll probably never see them again but yet they will stay with you always.
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