This morning I was in a particularly vile mood. The reason is part of a long drawn out story and one I am sure you won’t want to hear. But, there I was, not so happy, not so Zen as I wanted to be, and I decided to go my neighborhood Subway (yes we have them in Bahrain) to get a Veggie Delight.
To be fair I am known there. I usually pop in for the same thing after I teach my courses on base, so the workers greeted me with their typical smiles and hellos. But I was still fuming over the perceived injustice I had to endure, and I just wanted to get my sub and go home. That is when the manager, a sweet looking young man from Nepal, came up and shook my hand. “I haven’t seen you for a good time” he said. I told him I had been home to the USA to visit. Then he excitedly shared with me his visit to India. He was so thrilled to be talking about it. His face was glowing. He wanted to tell me that he went to the Prabhupada temple in Mayapur, and his experiences being there.
He talked about how beautiful it was, and how peaceful. “Even if you go there and you are speaking loudly or angrily you will immediately calm down and the voice will get quieter.” “Yes” I agreed. Not having ever been to that particular temple, I remembered my experience at a spiritual place I had just visited in California. I noticed my own volume was lowering and my body had calmed just thinking about the vibration it held. He talked on and on about how many people visited, and that he himself went eight times on this one trip. He played a short musical piece for me that he heard there.
And all the while I felt I was being transformed in a very small but real way. From anger to acceptance and from angst to peace. As he continued, I found myself becoming more mentally attuned with the Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, Ca where I had walked around the water, fed the fish and the turtles, and marveled at the gracefulness of the swans who called it their home.
The feeling of time standing still, the air softening, it was what I needed in that moment. My breath eased, and the fever in my brain cooled. Then the young man said, “When I first met you, I saw you wore an AUM symbol, and other things like that around your neck, and I felt you had the look of someone who is understanding of these things.” I explained to him that I very much enjoyed talking about and reading about spiritual beliefs and traditions. And then I realized what a gift this short encounter was, so I told him about how I had walked into the Subway angry and how meeting him, and him telling me of his journey to the temple, had changed my day.
Before saying good bye we both had tears beginning to form in our eyes. I thanked him, and he thanked me as well. I walked out of the building smiling and happy to continue my day with newfound positivity and strength. Today I learned that angels come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be found in the most unusual places…even in a Subway restaurant.