I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

People Watching—Stored Memories

Male Toga Adult...
Delores E. Topliff
Traveling teaches me that nations, like people, have personalities. Italy and Spain are warm and hospitable. In both if you even attempt to speak (slaughter) the language, it’s enoughthey smile appreciatively. Other countries, like France and Austria, can seem less friendly and appear to feel put upon. Even our well-meaning but fast-paced goal-oriented nation can fail to convey care and friendliness. Seeing polite manners in much of Europe gives me more understanding of (and dislike for) the word “brash.”

Most of us avoid unexpected encounters or delays. But people watching for insights and character development is lost if things go smoothly and fast. Señor Fernandez, the older owner of a small family hotel off a major square in Madrid has a face so 
old-school fine and interesting, it should be sculpted. I took his photo, though he complained he was not dressed for the occasion. But it was his noble face I wanted. He also stored my large suitcase free five days while we visited Italy with the one small bag allowed on cheap airlines. (The nearby central train station asked five euros per day.) I picture Señor Fernandez in a toga ruling ancient Rome’s Spanish province wisely when integrity, gravitas, veritas, and dignitas, meant everything.

I also see the face of the middle-aged woman we met in Bologna, Italy, whose picture I didn’t get, but her soft speech revealed she was from America’s Southwest. She was a fellow tourist waiting for a Sunday bus that didn’t come, wearing a Sherlock Holmes type hat that hid too much of her face, telling us about Santa Lucia, lovely 14th century cathedral on Bologna’s highest hill. Since we didn’t have time to go there, she promised it would be visible from our airplane. And it was. She was amazed we knew and had visited her hometown, Lubbock, Texas. I doubt Lubbock produces many native daughter specialists on 14th-century Italian cathedrals. Hers was a story I would have liked to get. Why was she there, alone? Where did she go next? I imagine answers and wish her well.

In recent years, I increasingly love these lines from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ullyses:
“I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades…
Forever and forever when I move.
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

What about you? What faces or scenes do you pass but still see? 
What do you glean? What do you still wonder?


  1. Apropos, this...I just learned that my PhD advisor, Nigel Priestley, died last December. I'd lost touch with him because of my own illness. The past few days have been a slideshow, in my mind's eye, of the past.

    He was a very reserved Kiwi, a hard bloke to know, but he was a solid mate, and I loved him like a father.

    I told him that, actually, in public, at a symposium in his honour. Embarrassed myself, embarrassed him, and I;'m glad I did it.

    I'll stand him a Foster's at the closest pub by the Pearlies.


  2. I appreciate this. I'm so glad you (for you, too), that you honored him when you did. Such things matter big time and the strength of such memories stays with us. Bless your day/week/month/year.

  3. Yesterday I had a chance encounter with a woman I'd never met but whom I pray for. Well, probably not a chance meeting to God. :-)

  4. Mostly, I remember, and dream, of people from my childhood. I remember in prayer people from the month that I shared the gospel with, and if there was one that I led to the Lord or who just who struck my heart, I pray and think about them.
    There is probably not a person from my past that I have not thought about or prayed for at least once. I love people.

  5. Neat, Ginger, and so true. Thank you for your heart.