On a rare Friday afternoon home, I sat down to eat a quick salad for lunch at my local Whole Foods. I was picking up some groceries for my uber health-conscious friend who was just home from the hospital when I decided I needed a quick lunch break.
Just as I was about to get up from the table to leave, an older gentlemen, probably in his late seventies or early eighties, walked up and sat down at the bar diagonal from me. His small, lean frame and slightly bent shoulders coupled with the fact that he was alone with his hot lunch plate grabbed my heart. Then I watched him reach up, take off his hat, hold it to his chest, and bow his head to pray over his food. Cue the knot in my throat! I could hardly take it—so precious.
When he was done and put his hat back on I saw it said ‘United States Navy Veteran’. Well that did it… I was going to have to say something to him. I finally stood up, pitched my trash, grabbed my cart of groceries, and went over to him.
“Excuse me Sir?”
He looked up a little surprised and said, “Yes?”
“I just wanted to say thank you so much for your service; I saw your hat. I really appreciate your sacrifice to serve.”
“Well, you are certainly welcome,” he said. “You know, I served three tours of duty on carriers; I worked as the sonar technician on nuclear subs.”
I leaned on my cart to give him my full attention, thinking how good it must feel to get to talk about something you spent your life doing, and how rare those chances might come these days for this precious man. I was smiling outside and inside, grateful that it was me getting to ask him.
“Wow! You’re kidding me? What was that like?”
He explained to me how the Navy uses sounds and sonar to detect enemies maneuvering so that they can get ahead of it.
“Once you can see the enemy, you’re too late. But we could hear them. We knew the sounds their ships and submarines made. We knew how much they were carrying, when they were in motion, and we could hear it from hundreds of miles away.”
The more he talked the more I felt my heart lighting up inside. I wasn’t here for him; he was here for me.
Recently the Lord had been speaking to me about the power of the sounds around us. I had just started a deeper study into sound, how God created it, how affected we are by it, and how the enemy also uses it.
There was a reason this precious man had gotten my attention; he had something I needed.
I asked a few more questions, and when he had answered, he asked me, “Ma’am—what is your name?”
“Jennifer. Jennifer Tringale.”
He smiled and said, “Jennifer, that is a beautiful name. Well Jennifer I pray you live up to the honor of such a name.”
Tears filled my eyes as I smiled, thinking of my amazing Aunt Jennifer who I am named after.
“Sir, that is my prayer too.” I asked him his name, and he replied, “It’s Ray.”
“Well Ray, it’s been a delight to talk with you and thank you for sharing that with me. I am so glad the Lord kept you safe all those years, and is still keeping you today.”
“Oh He has and He is honey, and same for you.”
It was the sweetest exchange with a deposit of just what we both needed. Sometimes the power of right sounds, even right answers, around you is just on the other side of simple obedience. All this study of sound is going into our latest podcast so check it out this month.
I call you blessed.