The Kind Stranger Chapter 4: A trip to the pottery.

Good morning!”

I’m getting used to the Kind Stranger sneaking up on me and surprising me.  Behind his smiling face is a playful sense of humour. Here I was getting on with my life, preparing breakfast in the kitchen. In he came, looking for me. KS is always welcome in our home.

“We’re going on a short trip today,” he said. “I’ve something to show you.”

By now I have learnt that he hears the deeper thoughts I have and responds to them without me needing to verbalising anything. I suspected this was another similar moment. It was.

But of course we didn’t need to get the car out and disappear down the road.  No, the Kind Stranger invited me to sit quietly with him, rest my mind, and wait. A few minutes later, I knew we were on the move, and soon we arrived at a village square.  You’ll probably have been there yourself.  It had an array of houses gathered around a village green.

“We’re going just over there”, he pointed to an old building with a light burning inside. We wandered over, he lifted the latch and we stepped inside.

We were in a workshoppy room, with pots everywhere, in various stages of completion. This, I realised was the village potter’s house, and I was unnerved to find that the old potter, working away at her wheel in the corner was oblivious to us.  I tried to talk to the old woman, but she didn’t hear me.  It was as if I was invisible to her. I slowly realised that I was.

I turned to the Kind Stranger to ask what all this was about when he put his finger to his lips to quieten me. He smiled. “Just watch,” he whispered.

I moved over to a workbench, pulled myself up onto it so I could sit more comfortably, and watched as instructed.

The Kind Stranger came and stood by me, and put his hand on my arm.  He often did this to reassure me and help me to relax. I felt myself take in deep breath and exhale slowly, feeling my shoulders drop and my breathing slow.

The Potter got up, moved past us, and unseeing, made her way to a bin of clay. Lifting the lid, she removed a lump of pure soft clay. Cutting a small amount from the lump the potter took it over to her wheel and began to carefully press it, mould it, and shape it. She took such care, and I was intrigued to watch her skills in action. Several times she stopped the wheel, and looked contemplatively at her amazing creation. It was absolutely beautiful. She had used her lifetime of skill to form a fine elegant pot that would undoubtedly be very valuable when it was finished.

Turning it slowly, she looked at each facet, checking it on the inside, on the outside, and smiled – a bit like the Kind Stranger did. Then, all of a sudden, she stopped. She had noticed a tiny flaw, a little impurity in the clay, hidden imperceptibly on the inside of the vessel. I expected her to pass over it, or take some spare clay and fix it somehow, but she didn’t. No, she gently put her hands around it and with the wheel spinning, crushed the entire pot back into a single lump of clay, and she began to make it again, a different vessel.

It hurt me to watch. I felt sad that such a nice pot would never be used by anyone or admired. Even though it was flawed it was still beautiful, still useful, still worth something. The mark was on the inside, not really visible, what was the big deal?  But I could see that to the potter it mattered. This was about her making the very most of the clay.

Something was happening inside me as I realised that the potter was not going to settle for second best. Of course, she knew that, in her hands, there was no need for any concern at all. She knew just what to do. This was clay of the highest quality and my guess is that she had paid a high price for that raw material. She had no desire to leave the clay flawed by an impurity and had no intention of moving on until that vessel was…

Exactly. The Kind Stranger  looked over at me and winked. We made our way out of the potter’s workshop, and soon we were back in my kitchen. I knew what this was about, and he knew I knew. It was about me, the value of my ‘clay’ and what I really needed right now. If I would allow myself to be …

I caught his eye. He smiled approvingly. Great. He had heard my unspoken decision.

The Kind Stranger Chapter 3: The Hug

When I was a child I remember playing hide and seek. We hid somewhere – in a cupboard, under a bed, and waited to be found. I remember the excitement and the peculiar emotion it created, as the finder crept from room to room in our rambling farm house looking for us. I remember so wanting to be found.

When I became a man and my own children were small they would run and hide and I would make a big fuss about “wondering where they were” as they hid, only half-hidden behind a curtain, desperately attempting to suppress their give-away giggles. When it was their turn to find me I wanted them to enjoy both the hunt and finding me, so I hid where they would find me easily.

These memories go through my mind now as I recall the mornings when I was waiting for the Kind Stranger to come. I knew he would find me if I sat quietly. I also knew he could not be manipulated or forced to come. He was far too strong and powerful for that. He had given me the key to our meetings: I must wait quietly. Like the little children, I was desperate for him to find me and, of course, he did.  He had promised.

I was in the garden, sitting at one end of our old swinging seat.  I had been there quietly for maybe ten minutes or so when I felt him come and sit at the other end. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. You’ll probably know that feeling by now. It’s marked by an overwhelming sense of knowing that I’m loved, wanted and accepted just as I am, sitting just here, even though I don’t deserve it.

“Good morning,” he said, with joy in his voice, “And by the way, I’m not here because you deserve it, but because you’re now my friend.” He’d read my mind. It was as pointless to pretend I could hide my thoughts from the Kind Stranger as it was for the children as they tried to hide, giggling behind the curtain. He knew.

“And yes, I do very much.” That was a surprise. The thought had crossed my mind to ask him if he enjoyed coming to be with me like this.

“Thank you.” I said very quietly. It was lovely to know that he was so sensitive to me. I’d never had a friend like this ever before, and I was so very grateful. I felt him look at me directly and smile with love in his eyes.  Apart from my admission of my need on that day I met him, this was the first time I’d actually spoken to him out loud. Looking back, ‘Thank you’ was the perfect thing to say. I was just so so deeply thankful. I said it again, from the bottom of my heart. “Thank you.”

You know how I mentioned earlier how it felt as if he put his arm around me? Well, it felt like that again. I felt surrounded, embraced, hugged, by him. It was a warm, caring, ‘family’ hug, the sort of comforting hug that a loving older sister or brother might give a little child. I breathed “thank you” again, but the words were unnecessary.  He knew.

It was such a special moment for me. It is well established by now that physical contact, a meaningful touch, a simple caress makes such a difference to people, but this was so much more. It was all encompassing and went so deep. Although this wasn’t an actual physical touch, it felt like it – a bathing of my spirit, an acceptance of me as a person – it was as close as it gets. I drank it in, more and more, soaking in it, allowing that hug to overwhelm me, and it did. I started to sob.

I sat and cried on and off for the next ten minutes or more. They were tears of relief. I’d been found. It was as if his hug was melting the core of my being, softening it again, and the tears were merely a stream flushing away the debris of years. And they did flush it away. As the emotion subsided, I felt clean, whole, refreshed.

I turned to speak, but he had slipped away. That was OK. I knew he’d be back.

I also knew that his hug would be mine for ever.

The Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/user/serx50#p/a/u/0/DMqOmKBz2ug

The Kind Stranger. Chapter 2: The Second Encounter

Read the previous chapter? Then enjoy the second chapter of this amazing story…

It was the day after I met him that I first noticed a change. Now, as I think back, it is hardly surprising that it would affect my future life.  I had experienced something very special, and through the night I tossed and turned and wondered about it all. Was this really just a remote chance encounter, or was I missing something?   The Kind Stranger had singled me out for his attention. This was new to me – it had never happened before – well, not like this anyway. I didn’t know how significant it would be.

I felt both weakened and strengthened at the same time by that first encounter. It was the weakness that felt strangely good. My carefully constructed defences had softened. I had softened. I could sense myself more flexible, more open, and much more relaxed. For the first time in years I felt safer, stronger, in fact much stronger inside.

I decided to make a drink and sit down quietly. And that’s when I heard his voice again.

It felt so close, and it was not just in my head. It felt as if he was in the room with me, not physically, if you know what I mean, but definitely here. I put my drink down, and just sat, relaxed, attentive, waiting.

I know this sounds weird for a rational human adult, but to me it was as real as the chair, the drink, me sitting here, and I felt a wave of warm emotion as I heard the Kind Stranger’s voice again, as real as yesterday.

He was smiling still. You can tell when someone is smiling, can’t you. And this time his voice was quieter, more personal, almost intimate, but with that wholesome respect and trustworthiness I’d begun to associate with him. It wasn’t a whisper, just reassuringly quiet. Perhaps he knew I needed to hear him that way today.

“I said I’d come.” I heard him smile. “You can trust what I say.” How did he know that my trust in people was at a low ebb these days? “I’m here to remind you of the truth,” he said gently, “the truth about you.”

I wriggled a bit in my chair (I won’t admit to squirming!) and took a moment to settle myself. He waited. I took a deep breath, and as I relaxed he gently continued.

“From the moment you arrived on this earth as a human life until the moment you depart from it – and that includes now of course” (he smiled again) – “you have been, are, and forever will be of indescribable worth. The word I’d like to use is ‘priceless’. No amount of gold, diamonds, or any number of banknotes in any currency would compare with your worth.”

The Kind Stranger stopped for a moment to let his words sink in. They needed to. I had long doubted that I was worth anything much. Yet in his voice was a wonderful reliable confidence. He knew he was right, and in the deepest caverns of my soul I heard myself receive his words as truth for me. For the first time since I was a tiny child, I realised how valuable I really was. Priceless.

Overwhelmed, I felt my emotions well up. A single sigh, suppressed for so long within those deep echoey caverns, rose within me, and as I breathed it out, the doubt was gone. I knew the truth.

“I’ll be back soon.”  I think I may have felt his touch on my arm again as he left, though I could have imagined that.

I sat awhile, comfortably alone and at peace, consciously and unconsciously surrendering each part of my life to what he had told me. It would change everything.

Watch the video of Chapter 2 .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i9AjJCXI_Q

The Kind Stranger

In Powerchange we have all sorts of interesting ways to help people have a better quality of life, and here’s a new exercise I’d like you to test for me.  It’s called The Kind Stranger and it works by readjusting your thoughts as you read it. Notice what it does to you emotionally over the next few minutes or days, and ‘leave a comment’ (above) so we can know how it is working for you.  If it ‘works’, pass it on to your friends – even Facebook it for me! Here it is …

You know those times when you feel ‘needy’- alone maybe, inadequate somehow, or unresourced? It was at such a time as this that the kind stranger turned up. It was a completely unexpected encounter, and one that changed me. He just came up to me, smiling, and although to start with I was a bit suspicious I quickly realised he was a genuinely good person, and his intentions towards me were healthy – pure – and good.

What he said was good too.  So very good.  He fed me, deep in my soul, and it was only later that I realised how much I had benefited from his kindness. “Excuse me,” the kind stranger said, “I hope you don’t mind me coming over to you, but I notice that you seem to feel alone and, dare I say it, in need somehow.” He disarmed me with his gentle tone of voice and obvious respect. His honesty was refreshing, although a little unnerving, and enabled me to be honest too. “Yes,” I admitted. “It is a bit like that at the moment.”

“May I take just a few minutes to help?”  He was so direct, and although I had so much to busy myself with, I knew I must stop and listen to him. We found somewhere to sit down, and he, this smiling kind stranger, addressed me personally.

“What do you need to hear someone say to you today?”

It was such a surprising line it took me off guard, and I could feel a lump in my throat. I wanted to get away, yet I knew this was important. He was obviously in no rush, waiting quietly for my reply. He watched me attentively – kindly – as his words sank in, slipping under my defences.  I mentally ran through a few superficial replies but knew I must be honest in return. I thought of the one thing I’ve longed for someone to say to me, but simply couldn’t voice it. It was lodged, stuck in my heart.

“That’s right,” he said.

Had he read my mind? I thought of some more.

“And those are good too.”

With a tender transparent authority the kind stranger told me clearly, gently, confidently, things I needed to hear. And something inside me change for ever.  How did he know? (For he certainly did.)

” May I put my hand on your arm?” he asked. Shocked, I reached out towards him, and he respectfully held my arm just above my wrist. It was such an important touch – firm, reassuring, filled with the rich tenderness of loving human contact. I loved him for it. Skin-food for my soul. I felt a deep confidence come from his hand  into my body.

“You know,” he said wisely, “we could meet right here every day or every week in person and I could say these things to you. It would be very resourcing and up-building for you. But I’ve got a better idea: I want you to listen to my voice now, saying and repeating these things you need to hear, deep inside you. Listen to my voice deep in your heart.” He paused as he noticed me do what he suggested. “It is me, isn’t it!” He chuckled, and continued, “And then, every day, even though I will not be with you physically as I am now, I want you to feel my hand on your arm like this and hear my voice reminding you of them –and all the other things you’ve forgotten that you need. Hear the words you needed someone to say to you when you were a child, a teenager, and at those other moments of your life when you felt alone, lacking confidence and direction. I’ll say them – listen out for me. You will hear my voice inside you and I will say them. They are the truth. And when you’ve learned how to listen to me, tell others about your encounter with me and help them to listen. So from today on I’ll be with you forever – and with them too if they want me!”

And he is. Whenever I sense I need him, he’s there… here. Every day. I feel his warm hand on my arm as I write, his confident touch relaxing me, feel his strong arm around my shoulders, hear his wholesome, rich voice, full of endorsement, encouragement, kindness and love reminding me of what I need to hear. I listen to him every day now, and he’s no longer a stranger.

Andrew tells the story personally on youtube – with one or two little extras…

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