The Beauty of a Chance Encounter

My massage therapist was climbing on my back like a monkey, pressing her knees into my knots and knobs, while telling me about how she met her boyfriend. My face pressed into the massage table’s headrest, she said she literally bumped into him on the street.

Out with friends on a warm summer night, she left one venue with the intention of going to another. But there he was. Good-natured, and appreciative of being bumped into by a pretty woman. She took one look at him and knew, just knew that her night just got a lot more interesting.

Tall, handsome, and missing both his legs.

“You could tell?” I asked, wondering if it was her massage therapist’s training and experience that helped her detect these things. Was there something in his gait? The way he stood? How did she know?

“He was wearing shorts,” she explained, kneading my calf.

Their bump on the sidewalk quickly grew from interest to fascination to desire. One thing led to another, a little bit fast, a little bit slow, and here they are today, hiking up Mount Rainier where he scampers down the cliffs, climbs up the trails. As sure-footed as a mountain goat.

“It’s because he still has his knees,” she explained. He’d lost his legs to frostbite, in a climbing accident when he was a teenager. But despite his missing limbs, he still has his strength and prowess, his capability and power.

A few months later, Paul and I were in Antalya, Turkey – out in front of the Archaeological Museum. I was giddy as I always am around old Roman statues and artifacts. At the entrance of the museum was this imposing, vibrant statue. The cock of the hip, the clenched hand, the confidence and power in the stance.

He’s missing a leg, a few fingers, and his head. Sure, he’s a little worse for wear. He could use a little scrubbing and mending from the centuries he’s survived, the elements he’s been exposed to over the millennium. But there’s a wholeness to him, really – you can still see all of him, of what’s there in him, even though it’s gone now.

It’s what my massage therapist sees in the love of her life.

Oh small bump, oh small chance encounter, look how quickly you work. A moment on a sidewalk. A freak snowstorm on a mountain.

Dash our original plans, why don’t you. Leave us marked in visible and invisible ways. Make us fall headlong into people or experiences that leave us gasping and surprised at the wonder of it all.

But give us the little gift, perhaps, that sometimes we bump into exactly what we’ve been looking for. Bring us, won’t you, the people who see our fullness, our vibrancy, our power, no matter what we’ve been through.

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