Yesterday I went to the park to read a bit. Every person who passed my bench had headphones on. No one said hello and no one looked up. Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I pulled out my phone and began checking texts and reading emails.
This morning, however, I rode down to a nice spot by the Bay to do my office, with the Golden Gate Bridge to my left and Alcatraz Island to my right. After a few minutes an older Asian woman approached me in greeting. “Good morning,” she saluted. “Aren’t you cold on that rock?”
“Oh, no, I’m still hot from my bike ride,” I replied. “What’s your name?”
“Susie,” she beamed. “What’s yours?”
“Joseph,” I said. “Father Joseph.”
“Thank you, Father Joseph. I’ll never forget you! Be careful not to get too cold, Joseph.” She walked off all smiles.
It’s been a long time since a passerby has looked at me, or greeted me, or smiled at me. How happy this woman made me in simply acknowledging our common humanity. “Tolerance” is definitely not enough for human happiness. We need love. May God reward that Asian woman for giving a stranger the gift of her greeting.