I’ve been trying to write this post for over a week now. After being in a foreign land for almost a month you would think it would be easy to spin an epic tale of adventure. I admit there were times were I felt epic and adventurey – maybe most when I found myself herding sheep through the fog on the side of a mountain. But the parts of my trip that have made themselves home in my heart aren’t epic or adventurey or have anything to do with sheep. They’re actually quite normal and every day. And maybe that’s why they stood out when I was so far from normal and every day.
One day in Munich, Peter and I stumbled upon an evangelistic street performance in the town center. They’re was the classic sketch set to music, gospel message, and friendly faces wandering through the crowd hesitantly asking if you know Jesus. After a quick dinner, we decided to wander the crowds a little and be a friendly face. And that’s when we met Favricio.
I don’t think I’ve had a more delightful encounter with a stranger in my life. Favricio – wearing the friendliest brown eyes, an unceasing smile, and a subtle nose ring – shared his story with us. Originally from Mexico City, Favricio now lives on the border of France and Spain working as a solar tech engineer. He said he was in Munich alone and admitted it was refreshing to actually be able to talk with non-native speakers.
After some small talk we got on the subject of religion, and Favricio said something about believing in an energy that flows through humans and nature and the entire universe. Then he said another thing that made me smile, This energy is what makes me feel connected to both of you right here. Hm… In Munich, a city thousands of miles from where the three of us were born, in a country with a language none of speak, in a town center with a thousand faces I’ve never seen, Favricio felt a connection with Peter and I. We had been talking for no more than fifteen minutes, but I laughed a little and told Favricio Ya know, I feel that connection too!
And as we elaborated on this connection, we both shared about this warm and home-like feeling overwhelming us, right there in Munich’s town square.
This is God’s grace, Favricio. You call it energy but we call it the love of God, the love of a Father. And this connection you’re feeling, we call that the likeness of God interacting between two of his children. And the mysterious pull you find in nature, we call that glory, God’s glory finding the part of your soul yearning for God’s touch.
I couldn’t believe the joy that was having its way in my heart. Sure, I was telling Favricio what God meant to me, but in the strange, cosmic, and overwhelmingly personal way God works, Favricio was reminding me why God means everything to me. And that kind of stuff justifies tears.
I said it was the normal and everyday parts of the trip that stuck with me. And to some degree that’s right. Interaction and connection is pretty every day. But I think I was wrong in assuming it’s normal. Over and over God has been hammering me with how not normal connection is, how entirely whimsical, powerful, and ravishing it is. We were built to connect, hardwired to be in relationships. If anything, the life and death of God incarnate should paint a pretty clear picture of how important relationships are.
God’s grace wears many faces, and on that day in Munich it was Favricio’s. I could see it in his eyes when they lit up as if he found a bright light in a dark place. Over and over Favricio told us how sweet it was to be talking with us, and we felt the same way. I think that’s how everyone feels when they genuinely connect with someone. It’s pretty incredible, isn’t it?
So after our little joy fest, we prayed for Favricio and hugged it out. I’m kicking myself even now for not getting his last name or phone number. But I guess that’s all the more reason to go out and find another Favricio, to connect with another delightful stranger.
More stories to come!