Some blogs just write themselves.
Trisha and I were working from our “remote office” this past weekend – a campground with WiFi just on the outskirts of Ottawa. Early Saturday morning, we turned the battery ignition on in the car to charge the phones and by mistake, we left the car fan running. So while we were blissfully gazing out on to the water and having a coffee before heading out, the car battery died. (Don’t ask why we didn’t just charge the phones while driving.)
While this did not happen on Sunday, I was still sure I was up a creek, facing a huge bill for a boost because the closest towing was not, shall we say, that close. On top of that the campground was almost empty. But even if it wasn’t, given the time of day, I didn’t want to bother our neighbors. Plus, I was feeling a little sheepish. Like….who runs down the battery of their car charging phones anyways? (Headsmack!)
I went to the front office hoping they would be able to help me. They were open, but no luck.
That was until my new best friend, John Neufeld spoke up.
The “remote office”. Great for creativity and getting stuff done away from the busyness of the city. Not so great to to charge phones.
I was so intent on getting my problem solved – we had places to go, people to see – really important stuff (not!) – that I didn’t even notice him sitting behind me as I entered the office.
“Yep, I got a battery handy. You got any cables?”
More sheepishness – “uh… no.”
He took a moment to think – “No worries – we’ll rig something up.” That didn’t resonate with me – just how does one “rig up” jumper cables anyways – but hey, he seemed confident.
John is a seasonal camper, and if you can just try to picture the stereotypical seasonal camper who’s there ‘cause the fishing is good, you sort have got what he was like. He was tall and thin, nicely tanned and just unshaven enough to say: “Life’s not about rushing to to get to where you want to go, it’s about making sure you eek out every last drop of goodness along the way.”
So I follow him to his trailer, where he opens up his van and there’s small hardware store in there. John probably doesn’t keep jumper cables handy because a guy like that never lets his car battery run down. He pulls out a couple of wires and fetches his battery from his fishing boat and we’re off to my site. “This’ll do the trick.”
Now here is where the coincidences start to make your head tilt a little.
We’ve all heard about seven degrees of separation. Sometimes, it is far less than we imagine. What reminder that if we are open to it – there are ZERO spiritual degrees between us, really.
I look over and notice an engineer’s ring on his pinky finger. So of course I ask, “What kind of engineer are you John?”
“Oh, I had a great job – I worked in government… (wait for it)…. testing cars.”
“So you’re not local here then?”
“Nope. We’re from Ottawa. Still there. Great place live”
“Yeah, it really is. Trisha and I are there too. Love it. We’ll we’re not in Ottawa exactly. We live in Orleans.”
“No way! Us too. Whereabouts?” So I tell him. Turns out…. (wait for it) ….we live less than 1 km apart.
He asks me what I do. So I tell him. “United Church minister and I also am a licensed contractor in Quebec. We build and install kitchens.”
“United Church minister. Really. That’s cool. Say you wouldn’t happen to know … (wait for it) …. Tom Sherwood would you?”
Not only do I know Tom Sherwood, but we’re working on projects together right now. Tom and I speak regularly. Turns out John and he were friends at one point.
So I am sure I don’t have to draw you picture as to how the rest of the conversation went as we marveled at how unlikely this meeting was, everything happening for a reason, ha ha. I even joked about how his place in heaven was now secure because he had come to the rescue of two sorry ministers and stuff like that.
“Say, you got a card or something?” Now I may not have jumper cables, but I NEVER leave home without my Church Business Cards! Like, you just never know when you’re gonna meet someone who boosts your car and you tell him you’re a church minister. Suffice it to say that John and I may end up going for a beer, sometime. “At the very least,” I said, “if you run into me at the Independent (our neighborhood grocery store) you make sure you say hello.”
And as amusing as all this is – it’s not the whole story. There was a true sentimental side to the synergy in all of it as the conversation turned to faith for just a moment – along with a recognition that grace is a real and beautiful thing.
“Say John, Trish and I are going into town now. What’s your favorite beer?”
“No, really that’s okay.”
“C’mon John, I mean it in a fun way. It only seems fitting, given all this….”
“No,” he said with the same soft voice that he first introduced himself in. “Because if I accepted anything for this, it wouldn’t count.”
Some things really do write themselves.
Be blessed. Be a blessing.
Rev. Eric Lukacs