This morning on the last block of my run, I saw an old Japanese man shuffling toward me on his own exercise endeavor. Ask just about anyone in this neighborhood and they will know who I’m talking about since he evokes quite a bit of admiration and perhaps even worry. This beautiful man has unmistakably hobbled through these streets for years. I’ve never seen him anywhere else- only pounding the pavement- one noisy foot in front of the other. His body is inclined in a mix between an Olympian track star who is using gravity to propel him faster and an arthritic patient who has just gotten up from a soft chair. Mouth gaping open, the gnats flee from his presence as he laboriously sucks in gallons of air. I wish he were my grandpa.
Surprised and delighted that we happen to be heading toward each other, I give him the thumbs up. His eyes twinkle. Slowly, he treks from the street, across a drive way over to my path on the sidewalk, hand raised in the air. We both run towards each other (well, running might be a bit of a stretch for both of us) with extended arms for what seems like a minute. We slap hands.
Instantly, I get an onslaught of information. Kind of like a dog must get when he sniffs a tree. As I connect with his smooth warm skin, a hundred images fly through my mind (family, war, farm, tea, children, change, work, contemplation). A real person with a real life. Did he see me too? I think so. We part energized, pressing onward. As for me, I trotted home with a smile on my face, encouraged by my new grandpa- to keep going. To live well. To know that I am noticed. That I am part of a universal reach – toward Life.
Do you need that high five? Who has sparked you? Where have you seen grace?