Island to Island

I opened the door to the sauna, and was hit with a wall of heat.

I know it's a sauna. But it was HOT. It was so hot my nail beds hurt.

And, true to form, I said so. Aloud.

There was one woman who was already sitting on the benches, and she laughed.

I know girl, it's hot!

We shared a laugh.

She asked me if I had worked out yet.

I said yes, the sauna was the end to my workout. 

She said she was trying to warm up before, she had been on a retreat and her whole body was hurting. Then she stood up and extended her hand.

She told me her name. I told her mine. And then she sat back down and told me her story.

She had just come from a four day mission trip to Jamaica.

I asked her what the mission was for, and she told me how she was a pharmacist, and that she was there to educate the community about the different medications that they were taking.

She said that we don't realize that people need to be educated on what they're putting into their bodies. Because we know. We know, but so many people don't. It's an easy thing to take for granted.

I asked her what made her do it? And she said she had always wanted to, there was just never the time. But she made the time this year, and now she's going to do it again.

It was draining she said.

Physically? I asked.

Yeah. But, emotionally, too, she said. 

And then she started crying. And then she started apologizing for crying, and I naturally told her not to be silly. Let the tears out.

Seeing people hurting so much, and then coming back was a lot, she said.

I said I couldn't even imagine. I reminded her how beautiful it was gone. How even though I was a complete stranger, her actions inspired me.

She smiled.

Thank you, Megan.

And then before we both melted into puddles, we left.

I don't know if I'll ever see that woman again. But her story, it'll stick with me - and it wasn't so much the trip to Jamaica. Sure, the mission trip to Jamaica was fascinating and inspiring, but our moment in this sauna gave me hope for all of us. For there we were, two strangers, sharing tears and bits of life. There we were, two strangers, listening with open ears and open hearts.

She and I couldn't have been more different, but in that moment, we were the same. Two people, sharing a story. Two people having a laugh. Two people, letting tears fall without reservation.

Magnificent things can happen when people listen to one another.

It was just a moment.

A blip in the span of a lifetime.

But how many blips and brief moments in a lifetime turn into something bigger?

How many words exchanged with strangers spark something else? How many times do we miss the opportunity to learn from those we surround ourselves with? How often do hold words of love and encouragement in our mouths, not letting them live in the open?

Too often we forget that at the core of humanity is the need to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved.

The world can feel overwhelming with pain and strife - but you can always help turn the tides towards love with a simple conversation..even if it's with a stranger in a sauna.