Two things happened recently that, while unrelated, reminded me of the surprising sweetness of life that comes up when you least expect it.
Last week at work a student came by my office to sign off on some paperwork to go to the State Board of Nursing, so she can take her boards and earn her nursing license. She was a lovely young woman, poised and well-spoken and what I think is now called "queen size". She certainly looked as though she would be a wonderful nurse, the kind of calm, sweet presence you'd like to have at your bedside if you were hospitalized.
So she double-checked some of the personal information that goes to the State Board and completed an online survey about her experience in nursing school and, as she left, she thanked me and I wished her luck. Then she stopped in the doorway and took from her purse one of those little pamphlets from the Jehovah's Witnesses, "Jesus Christ: Who Is He?" and handed it to me and said something like "Just for you to take a look at..." Then she was gone.
It had been a week or so of hard work, it being the end of the quarter with a lot of paperwork and other plates to keep spinning, and I had been feeling overwhelmed and a little panicky, wondering if I'd been performing up to snuff. All of which serves to bring me down. And then this beautiful young woman comes by and brings with her a sweet, calming presence, a beautiful smile...and a pamphlet.
The front of the pamphlet features a picture of Jesus, I presume, in a coarsely spun robe, sandals and a short, curly haircut. Unlike the typical long-haired Jesus artists usually portray. He's sitting on a rock, speaking, his hands in front of him, gesturing. He looks a little like Mandy Patinkin in "Yentl".
And I opened the pamphlet and glanced through it and was able to take a little comfort from it. I wasn't converted, I wasn't struck with a bolt of lightning -- I think it was the memory of Sunday school when I was a kid and the feeling of security I got from the stories about Jesus. It was a nice feeling, comforting somehow. And though it's been almost two weeks now, I'm still thinking about that student and thinking how lucky her future patients will be.
The other thing was just something that happened on the way home from the market tonight. We got to a stoplight just outside of town and could see, across the highway intersection in the high school parking lot, a carnival. One of those traveling carnivals with the rides that can be folded up and hauled away -- a merry-go-round, a Tilt-a-Whirl-- as well as games of chance and stands selling cotton candy and candy apples. It was just dusk and the western sky was that pale blue-green color that follows the setting of the sun. The horizon was blushed with a dusty rose and the lights of the carnival rides sparkled and flashed against it in a way that made it all seem perfect, meant to be, but only for that moment. Parents with small children in tow were going in and coming out, exhausted and exhilarated. It was so beautiful and so simple and reminded me of similar carnivals I had been to as a kid. Nothing fancy, but thrilling nonetheless. Real. And a kind of calm settled on me and made me smile. Then the traffic light changed and we had to move on.
I love it when life surprises me that way, touches me and reminds me that it's all okay: this is just the way it was meant to be.