Wrinkled hands and long-winded stories

I went to Starbucks today to get some work done. Headphones in, head down, writing, writing, writing.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. Hunched and shuffling his way through the shop with a brightly decorated walking stick that he bumped against things as he walked. Wrinkled hands, wispy hair, teeth yellowed with time. He sat down at the table next to me, sipping his coffee and staring off into space.

I took off my headphones and smiled at him. He started talking so quietly I had no choice but to move to his table to hear him. And there I sat for the next 30 minutes listening to him tell story after story–of the love of his life, of his faraway travels, of his love for all things NC State. Of a life well-lived.

At the end of his stories, he smiled and said, “Thank you for talking to me. Sometimes I get so lonely, I come in here looking for someone to talk to. Thanks for taking time to listen to my long stories.”

In this season of giving, it’s easy to get caught up in the gifts we have to buy and wrap and send. But sometimes the best gifts are the moments where we give ourselves–where we pause in the midst of our busy lives and give love to a stranger, offer a listening ear to a lonely soul, spread light by being present.

I’m bad at this because I’m a busy person, but I’m praying for the presence of mind to stop. To see the lonely. To see the hurting. And to give them the gift of my time.

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