the hand shake in vilcabamba

Someone I saw only briefly continues to bring a sense of wonder to me when I think about him. I saw him in Vilcabamba, Ecuador as I sat on a mini bus waiting to go to Loja, a drive of an hour or so, depending on who’s driving. That morning I was an early passenger waiting for others to come aboard so that we could begin the ride from the valley. The bus would stop often to pick up more passengers, passing small old villages along the way. The ride from the valley around the mountains and its many sharp curves was a perfect way to start the day because there’s so much beauty everywhere.

The last person to board before leaving the Vilcabamba bus station was a ninety-five year old man. This I heard from another passenger. He had a full head of the blackest of black hair and as he stepped up he looked at the bus driver and shook his hand. As he came to the first passenger he continued the hand shake, and, while looking into the eyes of the one whose hand he was shaking, he said a few words in Spanish. I wish that I’d understood what he said. When he got to me, I noticed the most innocent of eyes as he stood before me. They were radiating kindness. Such kindness I’d never seen in eyes before. He sat quietly after the handshakes with a serene expression on his face, and when it was time for him to get off the bus he began again the handshakes.

I think I was in the presence of an angel. No one uttered a sound or complained about the time it took for two round-trip hand shakes. That day I knew I would always remember this special person. I cannot forget his radiant eyes and the way he looked at people as he approached each one, or the honesty in his handshake. Sometimes it’s the simple things at the most unexpected moments, that can make a day extraordinary. Someone unexpectedly enters your life for a brief time, and brings you to another kind of understanding about life and how it can be lived.

“The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.” -Swami Sri Yukteswar

“Our ability to relax into life reflects our willingness to trust.” -anonymous

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