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Kindness from Strangers

The author of "Manhattan Miracle" marvels at how God places certain people in her path on the journey through widowhood.

By Anna Schmidt, Thiensville, Wisconsin

WEB EXCLUSIVE

Anna Schmidt is the author of "Manhattan Miracle," one of the two novellas set decades apart but connected by a common thread, in Love Finds You in the City at Christmas from Guideposts Books.

There are times in all our lives when God places us in the company of someone, whether a stranger, a long-ago friend, a coworker or a shopkeeper, and there is a message embedded in such encounters.

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In "Manhattan Miracle," Max Wolzak comes home from his third tour of duty in the Middle East over the Christmas holiday season and reconnects with Sarah, someone he knew as a teenager. He hasn’t seen this woman in years, so why now?

Max becomes involved with a group of homeless people who give him as much as he gives them. He also encounters a Middle Eastern man and his grandson, who thank him profusely for his service even though he has done nothing to directly affect their lives. This gratitude from strangers opens Max’s eyes and spurs him to make a life-changing decision.

I can relate to Max’s experience. As my husband came to the final days of his life, we had many such encounters, including a former high school classmate of his (a man I had never met until I attended a reunion with my husband) who made it his purpose to bring lunch and visit weekly. After my husband's death this man and his wife continued to call me and take me to supper and check in.

Around this time I began attending a weekly music series, where I ran into a person I barely knew from church. He is a hiker and nature lover and after seeing me that day he e-mailed me with “three places I often go when I need some alone time.” His suggestions were wonderful and in the year-plus that has passed since I became a widow I have gone to those places and found peace and comfort.

Such experiences have opened my eyes (and my heart) to the possibilities that lie in our willingness to accept that God can "speak" to us through others, and that has made this journey through widowhood that I am traveling more bearable.

Anna Schmidt is the author of more than 20 works of historical and contemporary fiction. She has found some solace blogging about her journey through widowhood.