Friday, August 24, 2012

Olympic Tale of Two Kisses

I did go to London to meet people and celebrate the Olympics with several million of my best friends. Mission accomplished.

Did I see Wills or Kate? No. Harry? Camilla? Charles? The Queen? No.

I did meet wonderful people from many countries and walks of life. It was fabulously entertaining.

And surprising.

We spent many hours (literally) on public transportation engaging in conversation with fellow travelers. One fun 'job' was to give out pins that said More Than Gold. Each pin was decorated with colors that told the plan of salvation and could be accompanied with a souvenir Olympic booklet that explained the colors and offered other Olympic tidbits of information. I tried to share my More Than Gold pins with individuals with whom I had a deeper conversation.

One morning, on the way in to London, two of us engaged a couple and a single man on the Tube. There were many around us. In fact, the train was quite full. But this trio was very interested to know what we were doing. After the introductory conversation centering on Olympic events and who was going where, they started asking questions.

To shorten the tale, the man seated one seat over from me, same side of the train, received a More Than Gold pin from me, as well as a souvenir book. He was very pleased. But he was also worried that he had nothing to give me in exchange. Which did not bother me, as we were to GIVE away the pins, not trade them.

Not satisfied with my free gift, he grabbed me and planted a big smoochy kiss on my cheek.

There, now he had given me something. He felt better. In fact, he felt so good, he opened his brown paper sack, pulled out his beer, opened it, and began to noisily enjoy it. Much to our interest in how legal that was in the train (and in the morning???). He was bringing the party to London, the Olympics, and our train car. A right jolly fellow.

While in London, I received not one, but two kisses.

The location of ministry for my group was perfect. Smack dab in the middle of the tourist area next to the River Thames, complete with a backdrop of the Tower Bridge and proudly displayed Olympic rings. (Side note: It was fascinating to watch the rings fold up and the bridge rise to allow ships safe passage.)

One afternoon I was busily painting faces. The first question people always asked, as they hovered and watched, was, "How much?"

After they discovered the price - FREE - they happily joined the queue and gathered other group members to join them. This was repeated constantly, as long as the clown, Happy Hearts, was entertaining and chatting and creating balloon sculptures.

The second (or perhaps third) question that was asked was, "Why?"

As in, "Why are you taking your time and painting on the faces of so many strangers in a land that is not your home? Why?"

My partners and I were joyful to answer that we were happy to paint faces and just wanted to tell them that God loved them.

The responses to that statement were varied. Some continued to question and discuss, some changed the subject, and others commented on the sacrifice, but all were pleased that we were performing this public service.

One older woman approached me with the same question. How much? And later, as I was painting a Union Jack on her arm and teasing her that she could fool her friends with her tatoo, she asked why.

"God loves us, and God loves you. We want to tell you that God loves you," I said.

"I believe," she said, "in God."

"Oh," I answered. "Where do you go to church?"

"I'm Greek orthodox," she said.

And we continued to have a warm and intimate conversation.

As I finished her arm painting, she was overwhelmed with emotion. Tiny dabs of tears appeared in her eyes. She pulled me up, I thought for a hug.

Instead, she grasped my arms and pulled me close, kissing me on both cheeks. Kisses of spiritual connection.

Two kisses (or three, if you count both cheeks in the last kiss). Totally different heart reactions and spiritual climates.

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