As we sat and talked, I expected the next chapter in an ongoing story. It was one I was confident that I knew well. I understood the nuances. I got the subtleties. While it was annoying, I got it! I wished it would be different. I wanted to influence a change. However, the story was the story.
As we sat down over coffee, my wandering attention suddenly focused on the words, tone, and details. The story was new. The story was very different. What I was hearing was not a chapter I could skip over without losing anything. I did not anticipate this plot twist. It could be the introduction to a new book.
As the quietness began to envelope me, the echo of his words continued. Even as I reflected, I could see signs in earlier conversations telling me that this was coming. I may not have missed much, but I easily could have.
Plot twists can come at any moment. We may think we know where things are going. I find myself challenging my assumptions. The challenge reminds me that there are two options in a plot. Pay attention to what is in the present or be somewhere else. The latter means I will miss something.
I am also reminded that change can be good or bad. Yesterday, it was a positive change. In other circumstances, the plot is quite different. I remember one author’s recollection of a surprising plot twist by those representing good. Their conversation told an ugly story.
“We’ve bound ourselves by a solemn oath to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. But we need your help. Send a request from the council to the captain to bring Paul back so that you can investigate the charges in more detail. We’ll do the rest. Before he gets anywhere near you, we’ll have killed him. You won’t be involved.” (Acts 23.14, 15)
Being alert, in the moment, opens one’s self up to being engaged in real life. In the present, we can make a difference. It is a wonderful place.