The unexpected gift

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

“Where are the bears?” the young man asks, his stride matching mine. His vowels rounded that only someone from a land across the ocean could perfect.

“Oh I’m not sure you really want to see a wild bear,” I replied in typical Canadian polite and honest manner. “You can really get hurt by bears. My sister was a nurse in Jasper and she’s seen enough bear mauling injuries she won’t even tent anymore.”

“Really huh? Well, where can we see them?” I glanced over at the young man, a helmet of some kind (rock climbing maybe?) set upon his head, his quiet companion walking beside him. A backdrop of rocky mountain glory  and the chatter of others, some languages unrecognizable, surrounded us in this popular tourism spot in Banff, Alberta.


How could I deny them any information to see something new in this place they travelled too, maybe even planned for many years?

I gave them what giving I had.

“If you head to Lake Louise and do the hike up to the Tea House, you may see the grizzlies running in the gullies below. And the black bears hang out up there but usually at night when the tourists aren’t there. But the staff can tell you stories about those bears. You may even see some bear tracks.”

“Great mate. Thanks!”

As they picked up their pace I called after them as had to do my due diligence after all. “Make sure to have bear spray and bells!”

He turned, gave a quick wave of acknowledgment and the two paraded on to their next adventure. And I could feel myself being glad for them. Their excitement, their fresh eyes in this Rocky Mountain town I’d been to many times, gave me joy that only a giving can do.

It was just a little giving, a connection I allowed in when matching their stride on the path we both travelled.

And maybe, just maybe it was also a giving forward, a result from another giving that happened soon before.

A giving from an unexpected conversation due to a kindness thought needed. A need seen, an opportunity seized.

I’d spent the morning hours walking the loop of Minnewanka Lake, in solitude. At times I paused, knelt and took pictures and video of a beauty that my camera cannot fully express. Intentionally I tried not to fill my mind with words, with thoughts, and analysis as I often due on my walks. A smile or said ‘hi’ would occur from time to time between passer-byes. But overall, even with the lake’s rippling, the tour boats motoring, and the tourists conversing, it was an alone silence I heard within.

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I’m one who can be alone when travelling. I have never hesitated, either, to sign up for a course alone or a weekend retreat not knowing anyone going. Or buy a concert or a theatre ticket for one. An old friend of mine recently called me fiercely independent, elaborating on how I just go and ‘do stuff.’  And, yes that’s true.

But doing this ‘stuff’ on my own doesn’t necessarily mean I want to always be alone. It’s just that if I didn’t go “do stuff” on my own, I may never “do stuff” at all.

The alone silence I heard within, on the rocky mountain lake path, was a familiar alone silence, one I have navigated through before. When the thoughts came in that I wouldn’t mind to be sharing this time with another, I’d accept them with patience and grace. I’ve learned how to be content in the alone silence. But the need for connection is a known fact and never withdrawn.

Because God made us for community.

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

So later, when I stopped at the snack shack and sat down comfortably on a stool, placing my water, purchase and backpack on a high counter, the magical view of Lake Minnewanka ahead of me, I welcomed in the question, the connecting, from the man devouring a vanilla ice cream cone beside me.

“Are you from here?”

Just a few hours north, I told him. And over the next half hour I learned about northern England, about a son moving across the sea to begin a prosperous farming career in prairie Canada, and a grand daughter who showed off her welsh words over Skype. I laughed along with this gentle man and his wife perched beside him as he told me the response of his doctor when he complained of his foot giving him so much trouble even after a life-style of healthy eating and exercise. ” “Mr. Reed, she said, “things just wear out.” ”

But it was, unexpectedly,  the story he shared of his neighbour back home in England that most gave. And later gave forward. “He lives alone, you see. And I knocked on his door one day to say hi. He told me he hadn’t talked to anyone in two days! Now I try to talk to anyone I see alone, you see.”

I do see.

I see a man who seized an opportunity of a needed kindness learned unexpectedly from a giving act of loving on his neighbour. And then loved on me, this neighbour who sat in a snack shack at a busy place of roaming tourists, alone.

Giving isn’t about what you have in your hands; it’s what you have in your heart. Never doubt it: an act of kindness…. can be more powerful than a sword in starting needed revolutions. Ann Voskamp, The Way of Abundance

I wonder now, if those two young men ever did see a wild bear during their time here in my home province of Alberta, Canada.

What I do know though, our connection when transversing the same path, gave them an unexpected gift that what they hope to see just might be possible.

Lynn J Simpson, Certified Professional Life Coach at INSPIRING HOPE IN YOU

Linking up with # TellHisStory

                          Recharge Wednesday


Soaring with Him Ministries

27 thoughts on “The unexpected gift

  1. This post and your photos refresh my heart, Lynn. Thank you. I have been to Lake Louise, and it is breath-taking. And I love the unexpected gift God gave you. Such a great reminder of seizing opportunities for kindness. Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a sweet post. I love your pictures; they’re beautiful! And, like you said, I’m sure they don’t do the real thing justice. They reawaken my childhood dream of seeing Canada. 🙂 The story of your English lunch companion touched my heart. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes when I see someone alone, I don’t approach them because I think maybe they are enjoying their quiet time. Your post gave me new insight so next time I will at least say hi and see where it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is so beautiful. And a great lesson to everyone who reads it to reach out to those who are alone–and when we are alone and reach out, we won’t be alone ourselves. Great images too! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Lynn!

    I don’t think I like to see a bear, either 🙂 you have some great images coming along with this blog post. You are right; giving is not about what we have in our hands, it’s about what we have in our hearts.

    Edna Davidsen

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post is so encouraging! I’ve always tried to be diligent about starting conversations with others who are alone, and I am usually blessed by the conversations. Everybody deserves kindness. Thanks for this sweet reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lynn, isn’t it surprising how gifts sometimes come wrapped in others’ stories? This is such a beautiful post. We do need community. But, it also seems like there are time when we need to embrace the being alone aspect of life. How amazing that you have such beauty only a few hours from you. I’d love to come visit and learn photography tips from you. 😉 Your photos always make me sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeanne, I hope it’s a sigh that breathes in life! I’d love to come your way and for you to come my way too and bring your family. You and your boys may have a lot of fun in this part of the Rockies! It is amazing how gifts are wrapped up in stories. It’s something we can receive and give as we all have them! Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t imagine going a few days without talking to someone. We all need community for sure. Your post had me captivated. I felt like I was right there with you experiencing each moment, each conversation. I have to admit, I wondered if the couple found a bear? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When we were kids, we’d go camping a lot. We always wanted to see bears, too. So, against my Mom’s better judgment, Dad took my brother and I off to look for bears. We never saw any, which I think is somehow how my Dad must have planned it. But Dad gave us a special time, hiking in the woods (safely) while allowing a childhood dream to flourish in the grand imagination of the moment. Dad’s small act of kindness is one of the most fun memories I have of my childhood. He gave us that thrill, even though Mom balked at the idea. He would have never put us in harms’ way, but instead, gave us a memory to cherish for a lifetime.

    Similar to what happened to you… “an opportunity seized.” What a wonderful perspective – great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful reminder about being aware of the reality in the lives of those around us. We never know unless we strike up a conversation. One of the blessings of traveling alone are these kinds of conversations and opportunities to talk with others. They blessed you, and you blessed them in return.

    The silence of being in the wild to simply BE there in God’s majestic creation was also surely a great blessing! Thank you for sharing your photos with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It is indeed so much better to not “go it alone” and do life with a partner, or partners! God designed us to be in community, and there are multiple examples of that in your post. Thanks for the encouragement toward that end, and for the beautiful pictures and descriptions!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your photographs are always a place of rest. I am so blessed to be reminded that “giving isn’t about what you have in your hands; it’s what you have in your heart.” And so we don’t stop sharing the goodness and kindness that is in our hearts because that’s who we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What an important message for us all to remember… the gifts we give forward in other people’s lives- often not even being aware of them. Reading this reminded me to tune in, give more freely to those who cross my own path- all of which I value and believe is a critical piece to humanity. It is everyone’s calling, really.

    Your photographs are SO BEAUTIFUL.

    Liked by 1 person

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