When the Student is Ready, (T)Ruth appears.
It is an uncharacteristically warm day on the Oregon coast. The wind is light and about 68 degrees. We are walking a beach called Devil’s Kitchen. I am not sure how it got that name in the past but it is a little bit of heaven today. Maybe the hot exposed sand fried the toes of early settlers.
I am trudging through soft sand while teaching my sister how to walk with a cane as support. She has some balance issues and struggles to repeat the pattern of planting the stick with the opposite foot. Left foot, right side cane; right foot, left side cane. She wonders why she should need this even though she recognizes her unsure balance. “I want to be independent, to walk on my own without support as long as possible,” she says. I do not know how to encourage her without being too pushy.
As we make our way back to the car on our return walk, an angel descends the trail toward the beach. She is dressed all in white and uses two white trekking poles to support her progress. Her name is Ruth. We engage in conversation and find out she 76 years old and traveling by herself along the coast. My sister remarks, “Wow, you are my role model for aging gracefully and remaining independent.”
We could view this as a miraculous event, an auspicious co-arising, or simply how life manifests when we are receptive to what it teaches. There is a very old expression common to many spiritual traditions: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”