I caught the image instantly as the taxi pulled up to the light. He was sitting cross-legged under the small piece of shade while his co-workers continued to work deep in a manhole. It was as if he was into his own world. His intensity and focus was totally on the act of writing. He had pulled a warning sign across his legs. His hands continued to smooth the paper in front of him. His heart was flowing into whatever he was writing.
My imagination wondered what could consume his attention. The busy morning traffic was simply background music to his efforts. His co-workers were giving him the gift of space and time. Everything was focused on his intent to put his thoughts on paper.
I hope the receiver appreciates what went into those words. If s/he is anything like me, I want to have a word with them. I would want to know and understand what was behind the letter I was reading. His story is important. Not because he has power or status. Not because of what he can do. It is important because he is a human being.
The brief moment from a bright steamy Singapore morning still sits quietly on my mind. The question I wrestle with transcends the letters I no longer receive. Family and friends reach out to others in many ways. Letters are now complemented with emails, telephone calls, texts, facebook posts, and tweets. In each, there is a story behind the words. Even as we move from the virtual into the real, I think of the stories behind every conversation.
Last night I sat and talked with a friend. The time was the affirmation of new beginnings. We are on paths open to exploration. The future is wide open. Metaphorically, the transition comes with a bit of learning from the past. If I were asked to summarize the evening, I would have used the words of a writer “so, with the tearful good-byes behind us, we were on our way.” (Acts 21.1)
Today is a time for stories.