Thursday morning (the US’s independence holiday) I was leaving to the beach for a run. As I walked to my car, a woman on the sidewalk asked as she nodded toward the fence, “Are you the artist who makes the signs?” I smiled, yes! I enjoy the interactions with passersby who have questions, comments or stories about the fence art. It is a practice for me in being brave, showing up for other people’s experiences, and truly being my “get love. give love.” belief outloud. Underneath the tree with purses filled with succulents or through the chain link fence, strangers have told me about affairs, visits from the other side, deep disappointments, redemption, and many of their dreams. I treasure these interactions as it validates, in some way, my own life and experiences. There are a few signs I’ve made directed to others, but generally the signs are born as messages to myself or my children; they are deeply personal. So, to learn through these chance interactions the signs have specific meaning to others amplifies the message and connects me in the web of humanity.
As the woman and I walked toward one another across the gravel lot, she began “I hope you don’t think this is strange but I want to give you something. I think you will understand because I think you have a spiritual practice.” I smiled and nodded as she continued, “I live up the street, I am one of your neighbors. I tithe, which means I give money to where I am fed spiritually.” As she talked, she pulled an envelope from the bank out of her purse. “One of the signs you had up a few months back meant so much to me as I passed it each day. So I want to give my tithes to you. I don’t know if you are rich or if you are poor and it does not really matter. What matters is that I tithe to you.” She pulled all the money from the envelope and handed me the folded bills. We exchanged names, I thanked her, we hugged and went our separate ways.
I looked down and opened the folded bills – three one hundred dollar bills and three one dollar bills.
As I told this story throughout the day to spiritually connected friends they said:
Three is the number for love. Three is the number for perfection. Three is the trinity. This is a mitvah.
For me, being on the receiving end of such a tithe has reminded me, again, the power of the giving/receiving exchange. I feel deeply seen – seen beyond just the paint and letters that appear on the sign. Seen in a knowing way that recognizes the stories inside me where the ideas for the signs were born.