Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Strangers Meet

A Wood Pigeon in Paris
I spotted this wood pigeon perched on the railing near the Pont Neuf (New Bridge) overlooking the swirling waters of the Seine.  I wonder if he coos with a French accent?  His plumage is stylish with the understated elegance of gray, black and white.  You would expect no less from a Parisian bird.
He looked at me and I looked at him -- snapped his picture and then in a moment, we were each gone on our way.  Even though this was only a brief photo op with a bird, it made me think about the many times our paths cross with strangers and something about that brief moment in time makes an impression on one or both of us.
There is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that comes to mind, "Tales of a Wayside Inn," with the words:
   Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown,
   and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak
   one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

I'm reminded of the many people we meet on our travels.  I have conversations with women standing beside me in line to board a plane or shuttle bus or such and it's not unusual to feel a bond with these women -- even though we've only shared a ten minute conversation.  Other times, I find kindred spirits at dinner on a cruise or during a tour.  At such times I feel we really are like ships that pass in the night, but in that passing we've made an impression on one another that will be part of our life experience.  I really want that impression I make to be a Godly one.  I want my "light to so shine before men that they may see" Jesus in me.
That doesn't mean I have to act "holier than thou" or be a "goody-two-shoes."  I believe what it means is that I need to be real and authentic, caring and compassionate -- and clean living.  Ephesians 4:29 reminds us "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
God commands us to have love in our hearts for others and let that love show through in our words and actions toward them -- even if for a brief moment in time.  We all cross paths with strangers.  As Paul said in Romans, "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone" 14:7.  Let's ask God to help us be sparks of light for His glory as He uses us as a distant voice in the darkness of someone's life.
As for the little Parisian pigeon, I can guarantee I didn't make an impression on him, but he made an impression on me and the look he's giving me in that picture convicts me that I want to be a better ship passing in the night, speaking out with the pure love of Jesus in my voice, so that someone will not pass into darkness and silence. 
   ~Note:  this is the first in a short bird series.  Ever since we put up a bird feeder system in January, I've been getting messages from birds -- and no, they're not carrier pigeons (: 

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