Almost every day I pass the sweetest little old man out on the trail, he has got one of those faces that just lights up the whole world as he goes by. Happy round belly, full rosy cheeks, out in the fresh air like clockwork, always with a heartwarming "hello!" in passing. Last night I got out a little later than usual, and I was half way in when it started getting dark, I hadn't passed a single person the entire time, when I saw him come around the corner.
"Hello there!" he beamed, "It sure is getting dark out here quick, I got out late and had to cut it short and turn around."
"Oh, I know!" I replied, "me too, I think I'm going to have to turn around soon."
Tears welled up in my eyes as he passed, I don't know why. There was something so precious about his smiling face, and how every person I'd ever seen him pass he greeted with that very same joy.
I turned around and headed back to beat the dark shortly after, and ended up running into him again (different paces), but this time as I passed he called out from behind, saying something more about how he'd been late getting out... and asking if I wouldn't mind if he walked with me back. I of course did not at all, and slowed to walk with him.
He told me how he'd been coming to this trail for 35 years, that he used to bring his kids up to fish in the canal, how there weren't any houses anywhere near any of this back then, and how much things have changed in all that time. He told me he had once seen a bear on the trail, when he was playing with his pocket-size morse code machine. He told me how he had met Steve Job's dad once, and how he had cut off his thumb doing his daughters kitchen remodel... He told me how his wife had died at this very time last year. How his kids didn't want to do the same christmas stuff they always do, because they are still grieving. He told me how he is too. How him and his wife were together since they were kids. How he has to get out here to walking or he gets to feeling sorry for himself. It was all I could do not to cry on the spot... that beaming smile, that joyful embrace of a presence, all while his own heart was broken. ♥
He told me he was grateful, and how kind life was that he was feeling low, and there was someone to walk with. ♥ And I told him it was the very same for me on this night.
The gifts... the gifts are truly everywhere.