Synchronicity and coincidence run neck and neck around here sometimes. I'm always on the lookout for connections between stories, but there are days when the two by four is wrapped in neon and brings along bumper stickers and T-shirts as well.
For instance, this weekend, I dealt with two men whose brothers had died.
And last week, two different men whose mothers had died.
What's with that?
Two weeks ago, a man sat in my office shaking. He'd just gotten back his HIV test and found he was negative. The man who might have infected him is sitting in jail, facing charges related to deliberately infecting his partners. The enormity of it all overwhelmed Jimmy and when I got him on the phone with his mother, he cried like a little boy. Today he got word that another friend from his circle has died of AIDS.
Twenty years ago, I did volunteer work with the local AIDS foundation. It was still a scary time back in the late 80s. People who were diagnosed were often dead in 18-24 months. Talking and handholding were important things to do. Listening was a key skill.
I couldn't have guessed then that the work I did there would have somehow led to the work I do as a chaplain. I'm often amazed how much of my life experience gives me some common ground with the people I meet each day. Which means I need to stay open to my life and all the people in it. There's always time to hear another story.