Sometimes I like to think of my life as straight line traveling through three-dimensional space. In our universe there are over six billion other lines running rapidly through space, each representing the life of specific human being. When two lines intersect, those two people meet. Sometimes these lines touch each other, running side by side for years, like the relationship you might have with a schoolmate. Sometimes the lines actually twist together and run for a long time, perhaps representing a marriage or love relationship. As each person’s line moves constantly forward, sometimes there is a moment of intersection of lines (lives) that is extremely brief. For example, when you accidentally bump into a stranger on a crowded sidewalk and apologize, this represents an intersection of two lines, or what I call a “nano-encounter”. When these brief encounters become spiritually significant I call it a “Nano-Epiphany”. Nano means “small”, or in this case, short in duration. An epiphany is a “sign, manifestation, or appearance” of something of great importance. A Nano-Epiphany can last as little as a few seconds, yet the spirituality of the moment can affect a person for the rest of his life.
The cool thing about Nano-Epiphanies is that they occur between people who have never met before and will probably never meet again. Yet, for those brief seconds or minutes there is a high-quality interpersonal connection that is extremely powerful. Have you ever had a Nano-Epiphany? Let me give you an example of one of my recent Nano-Epiphanies.
Last week my wife and I were with some friends attending a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. After the game, as the crowd jammed the sidewalks of Wrigleyville, I noticed a fellow walking ahead of me with two of his children. He was a broad-shouldered man with a fu-Manchu beard. At first glance he looked kind of mean; like a guy that I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. But after looking closely, seeing him and his two children adorned in their Cubs jerseys and hats, I was struck with a sense of admiration for this fellow who had taken time out to be with his kids. I had my digital camera with me so I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if I could take a photo of him with his kids. He was taken aback at first, but then said, “Sure, but I have a couple more across the street.” He called to them and they came over, equally adorned in Cubbie blue.
They lined up against a fence, he behind his four children. After I took my photo I reached out to thank him and shake his hand. He grabbed my hand and we were locked in a friendly clenched handshake. For some reason he looked straight into my eyes, still hanging on to my hand and said, “God Bless you, Man.” There was a strong feeling emanating from both of us, and I instantly replied, “And God Bless you and your family!” The hands parted and we walked in different directions with our lines running away from each other in hyperspace, never to cross again. The Nano-Epiphany was over. I won’t forget it for a long time.
Why would a complete stranger express such sincere and meaningful words to me? Why was I able to sincerely respond to his words without even thinking about it? What was it that connected us so profoundly? Perhaps it was goodwill among men. Perhaps it was the touch of the spirit of God. Maybe he could sense my true admiration for him as a father. Whatever it was, we shared a second of truly quality time as our lives touched briefly in an eternal universe. If you’ve had a Nano-Epiphany and want to share it, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because my Nano-Epiphany involved a photo, I’ve included it below. Enjoy!