It’s not often you meet to Morrie’s in one month. But that’s just how life works sometimes. And here’s the thing, it was Morrie who met me. I literally was standing there waiting for my dog to tire from watching the squirrel in the tree look down on her. Squirrels in our 'hood are a bit smug. I stood there wonderingt what Cali must have been thinking. I swear I could hear her saying “Kill, kill, kill, kill.” But she could have just been panting heavily.
It was there a big, giant white bear of a Malamute came bounding up on the scene pulling her owner Morrie with her. Star was half my dogs age which means twice as much energy and four times as much fur. Star, the dog, was seven months old and already 70 pounds.
“I’m used to crazy. I have four kids. She just blends in.” He must have seen my shock.
I liked him right then and there. He had a very calm presence about him. Not something you find with a parent of four kids all under the age of twelve. That peace, he would later confide was from his religious conversion that came about after his first child was born twelve years ago at 21 weeks! It’ no surprise that even non-praying people pray in times like this, but Morrie’s story went a little deeper.
It began with the local Rabbi visiting Morrie and his wife in the hospital. I am not sure why, but she was not able to help them. But she knew someone in New Zealand who could. (How many people have someone like that in their back pocket? I do, but that’s a different story for another time.) He called the number and Rabbi #2 began to speak to them. And not just light chit-chat. He began to describe the hospital, the NICU, the family waiting room, and so forth. That got their attention. He then said, “Raise your son in the Orthodox tradition and he will be out of the hospital in two weeks.” He even added the caveat, “I know you are not religious but do what I say and your child will live.”
Two weeks later, their son came home. And Morrie’s life was forever changed. He went from being “non-religious” to “orthodox” overnight. And he loves it. He has found himself and his place through the spiritual practice of Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible. Just as I was about to share my love for Christian mysticism, Morrie was called away by his son who was playing soccer. And I wasn’t able to get his picture.
But I did get to welcome a true spiritual presence of something greater than I could put to words. As I walked away, thinking about the people I have met so far, I felt a peace come over me. Like Morrie told me, “It’s nice to know someone is watching over me, and that I am connected to that power. It’s freeing not to have to worry.”
He wasn’t who I intended to meet. But I’m glad he decided to meet me. I’m grateful he did. Because now I have a better understanding of what it’s like to be approached by a stranger and begin a real conversation about stuff that matters…to me.