Long ago, when I was in college I asked my Philosophy teacher, “Who is the most remarkable person you have ever met?” He responded, saying that it was a monk from a Christian monastic order. The monk spends eleven months each year in isolation, meditating and praying. One month of each year he goes out into the world, giving talks and meeting people. My Philosophy teacher said that when he shook the monk’s hand it was magical. “The monk shook my hand warmly, unhurriedly, and his gentle eyes focused on me as if to say that I was the most important person in the world. It moved me profoundly.” So profoundly, in fact, that my Philosophy teacher still remembered and treasured that single handshake ten years later.
Last Friday a friend relayed to me an encounter that similarly profoundly affected him. A few weeks ago my friend was at the airport, waiting for his flight when a person walked by. My friend turned to his son and asked, “Isn’t that Bernie Sanders?” His son looked and said “No” but then looked again and said, “Yes, I think it is.” They were both still unsure if it was Sanders; after all, there wasn’t a large throng of reporters and security people surrounding him, as is characteristic of so many politicians. There were only two people accompanying him. My friend walked up to one of the accompanying people and asked, “Is that Bernie Sanders?” The fellow responded “Yes” so my friend walked up to Sanders and shook his hand. My friend said that when he shook Sander’s hand, it had the same impact that my Philosophy teacher described in his encounter with the monk. My friend told me, “There was something unique about how Sanders shook my hand and warmly, unhurriedly, greeted me. I immediately sensed that this is someone special. It was an experience that deeply touched me.”