The view over my shoulder….

Sitting at a Starbucks in Johnstown, PA. Killing time, waiting for a wedding rehearsal to begin.

The clientele here is so different. It’s fascinating, to consider the common denominator of a Starbucks; pretty much the same experience, wherever you are in America. Same products, same vibe. Same intentions.

But sitting here in Johnstown, PA, home of the world’s steepest vehicular inclined plane, I’m eavesdropping on the conversation of two farmers talking about endangered animals and oyster beds and how they might be altering their plans for the animals they are raising. It’s fascinating, truly.

And they ordered chai tea.

Life is interesting, all over the place. In these past few days we have done a great deal of traveling; and though we’ve gone to fairly familiar places, we’ve encountered new relationships and dialogue. I feel like I’ve spent 48 hours steeped in the rich, musky mess of people. It’s been raw and open and difficult. And rewarding and deeply rewarding, a rich blessing.

One encounter I had involved a woman who had been anxiously awaiting my arrival. She had a story to tell. In broken but effective English, she unraveled a tale of a long-time relationship – 50+ years – a desperate mother, a faithful friend and a tiny crack in a broken heart that led to a crater of openness to faith and a mighty love from the Creator. I listened, and the hair on my arms rose more than once as she detailed her fervent prayers and a new relationship with this long-time friend.

I met another woman for the first time; an artist, she met every stereotypical expectation of “artsy”. She talked of her art and her work and her gallery; clad in paint-spattered clothes, her short blonde hair and lithe physique camouflaged the fact that she was almost 60 years old. Facts and opinions spurted out of her mouth and then a pause would bring a question: “Now what do YOU do, dear?” I made mention of music and the church and we danced around that topic for a while. She remarked, “Your church sounds interesting…” I asked, “Are you a believer?”

“No. I’m Jewish.”

And then she began to speak of Torah and her relationship with God. She mentioned her study of Kabbalah and referenced a scripture.

Towards the end of the conversation, she remarked, “Maybe God used you ladies to prompt me to get back to my Bible study. I have gotten too far away.”

Life is so interesting.

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