Cheshire Cat's Grin

A Perfect Stranger

Yesterday began like most Sundays. I slept a little later than usual because I was up watching Saturday Night Live the night before. Then I enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee before getting ready to walk to Memorial Park for a free 11 a.m. yoga class.

The river and the iconic Memorial Park statue, "Life," dedicated to the people who gave their lives in World War I.

The river and the iconic Memorial Park statue, “Life,” dedicated to the people who gave their lives in World War I.

First Sunday Yoga for World Peace at Memorial Park is a ritual I’ve engaged in regularly for several years now. Most months, part of my ritual is a frantic last-minute scramble to get out the door on time: Where’s my yoga mat? What did I do with my sunglasses? Oh, I’d better bring a bandana in case I start sweating. Arrrgh! Why do I have to pee again?

It was no different yesterday. I was on my way with just enough time to get there, scout out the perfect ant-free space, and spread my beach towel and mat on the ground.

About halfway to the park, I realized I didn’t drink much water before I left. I was thirsty. It was a warm day, and I worried about getting dehydrated. I contemplated my options. It was too far to go back home, but I could stop at Publix on the way to get a bottle of water. No, I decided. If I was late it might disrupt the class in progress.

I consoled myself with the optimistic thought, Maybe someone there will have some water they can share. Besides, I can make it until after class, I reasoned.

Another Memorial Park statue and view of our beautiful river.

Another Memorial Park statue and view of our beautiful river.

The decision made, I turned my attention to what a beautiful morning it was for yoga. The birds were singing, a cool breeze was coming from the river, my body was anticipating the healing stretches, and my soul was eager to connect with God, nature, and like-minded peaceful people.

When I arrived, the park was more active than usual. Work crews were setting up tents and seating; beer and food trucks were arriving for an Oktoberfest celebration. Making my way down to the corner near the river where the group would be, I wondered if the noise of the generators would make it hard to hear the yoga instructor.

What I see when I'm lying on the ground during yoga.

What I see when I’m lying on the ground during yoga.

As I approached the yoga group, a man with kind brown eyes turned to face me. In his outstretched hand, he held a bottle. “Hey, would you like some water?” he asked.

I must have looked as stunned as I felt. “Yes, I’m talking to you,” he continued, explaining, “On the way over here, I was thinking what a humid day it is and that people might be thirsty, so I bought a six-pack of water. This is my last one.”

Gratefully, I accepted his offer. “Thank you so much. You have no idea how thirsty I was!”

Throughout the hour of practice, I was filled with a spirit of love and appreciation for the way the Universe takes care of us when we’re open to receiving. Next time I’m feeling unmet needs, I hope I can recapture the gratitude I felt yesterday for the kindness of a perfect stranger.

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