Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes it’s a smell, or a television show. It’s a trigger that acts like a time travel machine. Suddenly, you find yourself right back to a scene from your past.
It happened to me when, of course, I least expected it. My husband and son and I spent Spring Break at a golf resort outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where we might have been the youngest visiting couple by several decades. The care-free retired lifestyle was only at risk with the morning rush to a fresh pot of poolside coffee and with the afternoon flocking to buy $5 Bingo cards.
Many of the staff could be considered contemporaries of the average guest and the head concierge certainly fits into that category. She is a sweet tempered Floridian implant, like so many who call Florida home. Last Thursday, as I walked down the hall, she stopped her conversation and said in her English accent, “Good Morning Love.”
And there I was, a 20-year-old communication student studying at the University of Glamorgan in the coal mining hills of Wales. Just like that, I stopped in my tracks and remembered the chill in the air as I walked into campus every morning. The weather wasn’t worth remembering; it was always damp and dreary. I guess the sun must have shown itself at some point in my semester’s stay, but it was the exception to the rule.
But just as predictable was the weather, was the Porter at the guard shack at the entrance to campus. Now to be honest, I didn’t know what a Porter was and I’ve never heard the word used here in the U.S. He was the man who stood outside of the guard shack and supposedly kept order and insured safety as students and the likes came and went.
Every day, without fail, the Porter gave me what I thought was a warm look and then said in the gruffest voice I have ever heard, “Aruh Lu!” I smiled with what had to be a bewildered look on my face and kept walking. Day after day. Eventually I found comfort in the routine, even though I had no idea why.
What was he saying to me? What he trying to tell me something important? Was I walking on the wrong side of the street? With the wrong crowd?
And then one day in April, the Porter looked at me and in his signature bark said, “Alright Love?”
What? Had he been asking me if I was alright every day? And with an English term of endearment to boot? And here I had missed it for nearly four months. How could that have happened? What seemed crystal clear to me on that particular day had escaped me for months.
I look back on that experience now and think about all the times that God and I communicate much like I did with that Porter in Wales. God looks at me with undeserving love and tries to communicate with me and yet I can’t distinguish what he’s saying. I know he’s trying to speak to me and yet I can’t quite make out what he’s trying to tell me. I want to understand. I want to hear from Him. So what do I do?
Unlike the Porter who I encountered briefly twice a day, God invites me to have intimate, ongoing conversations with Him. And in doing so, I learn to distinguish his voice from the thousands of others calling to me in this world. His voice is the one telling me, “You are alright, Love” instead of asking “Alright love?” His voice is the one telling me I can rest in His peace, knowing that He will lovingly sustain me throughout the day rather than struggling to find my value in the things culture tells me are important. His voice says, “It is finished.”
And His voice is the sweetest sound ever.