I met an angel this weekend. It’s quite a story. It started with an ad on Craigslist: “Very comfortable old chair. Fabric is worn but has no rips or tears. Heavy, solid, well-made wingback. Free for pick up. Location near Central Market.” Within a half hour I had a text, “Hello. Saw ur CL and would like to get the chair. Available anytime.” I replied back “Hello there. Can you pick it up tomorrow?” Reply was “Yes. Or right now. Either one.” Since this was midnight on Friday I suggested 10:00 the next morning, and she replied “10 is perfect. See u then. I’m Bobbi by the way.” I explained the chair was a little too heavy for me, and on the second floor, and she might need to bring someone to help, and she replied, “My husband is just going to love being my surprise helper 🙂.”
At 9:30 I texted to confirm the pick-up and she said her husband was coming without her but he had a dolly. At 10:00 I opened the door to a well-dressed, sophisticated young man who held out his hands and said, “I don’t know if it’s your style but my wife makes leather purses so we wanted you to have one to thank you for the chair. I’m Bob by the way.” Touched by the purse gesture, and tickled by him and his wife having a common name, I thanked him and led him to the chair. He stopped to study it. “This is really beautiful, are you sure you don’t want it?” I explained I’d had it for 25 years, always meaning to recover it, had never gotten around to it, and it was time to let it go. He said he and his wife restore things really just for the enjoyment of doing it. “Tell you what, I’ll send you pictures after we restore it and if you want it back we’ll give it to you for free.” Surprised, I told him if I liked what they do to it I’d happily buy it back from them. He said, “No, my wife and I are incredibly blessed. We’d give it back for free. A blessing in the pocket rots.”
A blessing in the pocket rots. “Like fruit” he said.
He started to load the chair on the dolly and I commented on what I thought were carpal tunnel braces on his arms. “No” he said, “My wife and I caught an autoimmune disease while traveling the world. We’re disabled. We received a financial settlement which allows us to do the things that are important to us. The disease is terminal. We’re focused now on only those things that create joy.” As the conversation progressed he shared that they were in fact leaving Austin next weekend, their home all their lives, to retire to a very small town in the Pacific northwest. They both like grey cloudy weather so they had googled “dreariest place in America”, found and visited the dreariest small town, bought a house for $40,000 cash, and were planning to live out their lives as they wanted, whatever time they had left, without interference. “We’re moving from one heaven to another” he said.
He mentioned he’d prayed for patience, and God responded by sending him a lot of irritating people so that he’d learn patience. I told him I was at one time pretty satisfied with my life and had prayed for humility and God responded by sending me several humiliating experiences until I prayed “I got it, thanks”. “He’s a really good parent” Bob said.
He loaded the chair into his car and I asked if he meant Austin and the new dreary town when he said one heaven to another. “Yes” he replied. “We are so blessed; our regrets are so small.” By now I’m overwhelmed and tell him I’d like to hug him, and he lets me. It was such a blessing to meet him.
Chair secured, he held out his hand to shake mine and said, “I’ll see you in Heaven” and drove off. I know he meant Heaven on the other side. Not just Austin or the new town.
John 1: 1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Susie Duffy Buehler is an Austin based writer regularly seeking to see people through God’s eyes. Sometimes the challenge is harder than others but there is no shortage of practice opportunities.