The reservations? Made. The tickets? Paid for. All I had left to do was to be at the right museum at the right time.
But here’s why I decided to blow it all off.
I was recently in London with one of my friends and we had plans to visit the British Museum in the afternoon. We spent the morning walking around town and seeing the sights. We had an hour or so to kill and thought we’d stop in a pub.
“What can I get you, lovely?” said the bartender.
“Wow, nothing anymore.” I thought to myself. The pleasantry, delivered with an Irish ring, sufficed. I ordered my drink and sat down to talk with my friend. When I needed a refill, I returned to the bar.
“Same thing, lovely?”
“You know it. So you from London?”
“Oh!” she winced. “It kills me you have to ask, especially with you wearing that hat and all.”
Busted. I was wearing a Guinness hat and she let me have it for not hearing her accent. I knew we were going to get along great.
She asked me what I was doing in London and I explained I am a seminarian studying in Rome and visiting for the weekend. She was a bit surprised but had other customers to serve and I returned to my friend at the table. However, a few minutes later she came up to us with more questions:
“So why are you two studying to be priests? Couldn’t think of anything better to do, huh? You know, I was raised Catholic but I’m not practicing, although my mother is very devout.”
Just then a slew of people walked in.
“Oh of course, finally I have people I want to talk to and that’s when the rush comes.”
I turned to my friend and said, “If this conversation continues we are not going to the museum.”
“Oh, absolutely not!” he responded.
She returned and we spoke for a good hour over a number of issues ranging from politics to religion. Although she wasn’t a believer and had her issues with the Church, she treated us as if we were long-time friends and we all agreed on one thing – what the world is in sore need of is human connection.
And that’s why we blew off the museum. That small bit of human connection was worth more than the price paid for the tickets, and I have no regrets.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.