I was heading into the bathroom at my niece’s volleyball game yesterday when a kind-eyed white-haired gentleman stopped me. “Would you check on my granddaughter?” he asked me. “She’s been in there a long time. She might need some help. She has a walker.” “She has a walker?” I repeated. “I’ll check on her.” Then as I was entering the bathroom, I turned back. “What’s her name?” I asked. “Amber. Her name’s Amber.”
The four stalls were filled, and two women were waiting. “Amber” I said, before quickly realizing that spotting a walker under a stall was not a complicated task. I walked over to the stall. “Amber, ” I said through the door, “your grandpa sent me to check on you. Do you need some help?” She replied in one word, but I didn’t understand. “Do you need some help?” A second reply. I still didn’t catch it.
“Are you in line, ” asked a woman waiting for a stall. “Go ahead, ” I said as I waited outside Amber’s stall not yet knowing what to do. Slowly the stall door unlatched, and a little girl who looked to be 8 years old (I later learned she was closer to 14) smiled gratefully and welcomed me in to help her. Standing with her walker, her pants around her ankles, her trusting eyes melted me. I helped her get dressed and held the door for her to go back to her grandfather.
When I returned to my seat she and her grandfather were sitting almost in front of me. I don’t know if they were there before. I had not noticed them. As I stepped near her she lit up and spoke a paragraph to me, again in words I didn’t understand, but her eyes spoke very clearly, perhaps the most sincere thank you I’ve ever heard. I touched her shoulder to return the affection.
Throughout the volleyball game, occasionally Amber would turn around to check on me, with that same beautiful little smile, and sometimes with words of which I only understood the spirit. A friendship was being extended to me.
A friendship that probably will never develop beyond those shared smiles. It’s not likely Amber and I will ever see each other again, and I never understood a word she spoke to me. Yet, something in her spirit touched mine. Not that I need her or that she needs me, but that somehow in a realm deeper than our senses can explain, our souls touched for a moment and made each other a little better than before.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:1-2)
Kathy Vestal is a college educator in Salisbury, NC. She has a Master’s of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master’s of Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. An avid writer, gifted teacher, and occasional public speaker/preacher, her passions include civil rights, social justice, church reform, and education. She has traveled to Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Ecuador, and The Gambia, Africa, and enjoys reading, nature, and history.