When I think back to 1979 – my first year at U.Va., I always remember walking between classes and turning the corner onto the lawn and being face to face with this fellow. I will always remember the complete and uplifting peace I felt as he paused, and we looked deep into each others’ eyes. It was surely a very brief look, but it somehow felt like much time passed in that look. We then both smiled and nodded and moved on. It felt like we were recognizing each other as old friends as we peered into each other’s souls. It even seemed like we could see past each other’s childhoods to past lives, and I had never really considered the possibility of past lives. I remember that moving experience as though it was yesterday.
On this day, as on others, I am thankful that throughout my life, I have been blessed by encountering and recognizing so many kindred spirits. It has served as an inspiration to hope to touch those I encounter in such a way that I might leave them with a bit more light to share further with others.
That very brief moment for a profound connection also inspired me to think about how to begin a journey with a connection. It wasn’t until I saw the image below in the paper the next day that I discovered that the fellow I encountered was known as the Dalai Lama. Over the years that followed, I learned what a tremendous person this was that I had met on this chance encounter. It was some 30 years later that I attended a limited fund-raiser where he was present again. While his laugh was still there and the positive energy radiated strongly, I also perceived a bit of a weight of sadness that had perhaps come through the decades of seeing things happen.