Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Perfect Storm

It was dark, very dark.
So dark, I could not see in front of me,
Nor around me or behind me.

It was cold, very cold.
As I was walking,
Struggling in the cold and pouring rain,
Trying to keep safe and warm,
People passed me by.
Not a soul asked if I needed help,
Tried to save me,
Or at least asked if I were okay.

It was also windy.
The winds were so strong
They nearly knocked me down!
But they never did.
Instead I just kept walking,
Walking with courage.
Looking forward, moving forward.

After I walked and shivered for what felt like an eternity, I look for a building. A warm place of shelter to rest and warm up before facing the storm again. I spot a building. What building is it? I don't know, I don't care. I just walk in.

The building is warm right when I enter. Warm both in temperature and appearance. It has pleasant white, yellow, and goldish hues. It’s a little lacking in size but a good, comfortable space. I want to ask where I am but no one sits behind the information desk. So I take a seat on the nearest bench, snatch off my gloves and shake the cold rainwater off my folder that I was using as a shield. I slip my cold, numb hands under my shirt and press them to my abdomen, transferring my body heat to them. They feel icy cold against my skin. I briefly close my eyes and exhale, finally glad to be in shelter. My head slightly turns to my right, my eyes open. I'm surprised at what I see. A wall full of brochures, pamphlets, flyers, and, I believe, post cards. They all display religious and spiritual content. I see a couple of pamphlets that say "Associated Campus Ministries." So that's where I am! I see many other flyers and pamphlets on service work, community events, missionary work, and group meetings. I then see a pamphlet that really gets me: It has a painting of JESUS holding a lamb lovingly. Jesus is looking down at the lamb smiling. It made me smile.

I continue looking around, observing the atmosphere. Right across from me I see a small, round table with two chairs opposite of each other. I see the Holy Bible and some other devotional books stacked on top of the table. I then look to the left and see a stand of brand new Bibles, New Testament books, and more devotional books. I wonder for a second how much they would cost. But I then see a small sign on the stand that says that the books are complimentary and to take as many as you need. That is wonderful. This place is wonderful. I suddenly get a sense of God's presence. I feel as though He's near. I also feel so at peace that I forget the raging storm outside. I close my eyes and I smile slightly, breathing in the serenity of this beautiful setting.

I hear footsteps approaching but I keep my eyes closed, not wanting to open them.

"Hey," I heard a male voice say. It sounded quite friendly. I open my eyes and turn quickly to look at him. I must have looked surprised because he asked me, "Did I startle you?"

"Oh, no," I said. "You're fine."

He walks closer to me. I tense up a little. "You doing alright?"

"Yeah," I said, barely meeting his eye. "I'm a little better now."

"You seem cold," he said, smiling.

I nod and look down, just remembering that my hands are underneath my shirt. "Oh, gosh!" I exclaim, quickly pulling them out. "This is embarrassing!"

He chuckles, "It's alright, don't worry. Uh, did you just come from outside?"

"Yeah," I sighed. "I was just walking back to my dorm room."

"Wow! In this weather?"

"Unfortunately. I missed my last shuttle bus and I didn't know it was going to rain."

"Aww," he said. "You didn't have anyone who could drive you?"

"No," I said, frowning. "I'm new here, so I don't really know anyone...just yet."

"Well," he said. "That's not going to last much longer." He extends his hand, "I'm Bryan, what's your name?"

I look up at him and shake his hand, "I'm Chelle."

"Well, Chelle, it's very nice to meet you." Bryan smiles at me.

"Thanks, you too." I said, smiling back.

"So," says Bryan. "What brings you to Campus Ministries?"

"Um, wow, I didn't even know what I walked into at first," I said, laughing. "I just needed some shelter for a few minutes."

Bryan nodded his head. "I totally understand."

A few seconds of silence passed by. "So," Bryan cuts in. "I hope you don't mind me asking, but are you Christian?"

"Yes," I said, nodding affirmatively.

"Well, you've come to the right place." Bryan says with optimism. “We’re all having a small service down the hall in the Baptist room. Why don’t you come in and join us? It’ll be good for you.”

I hesitated a little, not knowing what it’s going to be like. “Um, thanks,” I started. “But I don’t know if I can—“

“Come on,” Bryan said gently. “It’s a small group. It’ll be fun. I’m sure a beautiful girl like you would really like it, and there are free donuts! Now I know you want donuts.”

“Donuts?” I say quickly, looking up at him. I ponder for a few seconds. I am hungry and surely God has brought me here for a reason, and perhaps this is it. Maybe I needed to hear a spiritual word right about now.

“Okay,” I said with a grin. “Sure, why not?”

“Great,” Bryan said. He sounded excited. “But first, let’s get you out of this wet coat.”

“Right,” I replied.

“I’ll give you warm blanket too. Would you like some hot chocolate along with that?”

“Please,” I said firmly as I took off my drenched light brown pea coat.

“Sure thing,” Bryan said, taking my coat.

“Thank you.”

I follow Bryan to the beverage machine. He hands me my hot cocoa in a small, plain white cup. I thank him and he smiles a\t me and leaves for a moment. I take a sip of the cocoa. It was just right. Not too hot, too sweet, nor too bitter. It’s perfect. I take another long sip and gaze out the window at the cold, pouring rain. It’s funny how it looks so cold outside yet I feel so warm in here, maybe because I’m being shown love. I’m in an atmosphere where I feel an infinite presence and I can imagine being surrounded by godly people. It must be the the best feeling showing hospitality to strangers who really need it, especially in such a situation like mine. It's such a blessing.

I feel a warm, soft blanket slip over my shoulders thus breaking into my thoughts. Bryan gently wraps a purple blanket around my shoulders leaving a lingering hand on my right arm. I look up at him slowly with my eyes wide and my mouth slightly agape, taken away in awe of his kindness. He just looked at me with a grin. He chuckles and says, “Is it comfortable?”

“Uh huh,” I utter, still staring at him. I take another good sip of my hot cocoa.

“Good! Let’s go.” He leads me to the Baptist room.

Bryan begins to speak but I drift away in my own thoughts again. Oh my gosh. This guy has to be some kind of angel. It’s like he came right out of Heaven. He’s adorable, just adorable. Did God send him for me? Let me not go too far just yet. We haven’t really gotten to know each other. Maybe we will. For all I know he could be dating someone. Then again, maybe he’s not. Does he like me? Probably. I can tell by the way he looks at me; that lingering hand he left on my shoulder after giving me this blanket, I noticed it. And he thinks I'm beautiful. That's got to mean something, right? Well, I know that I like him so far and I hope and pray that he stays around somehow.