What in the world are you doing here?

There is a certain serendipity when you unexpectedly bump into a friend.  You know what I mean- the chance encounter of pulling into the concert only you find you have parked next to someone you haven’t seen in months or looking across the restaurant to spot an old friend from high school.

Yet as cool as that coincidence or providence may be it become so much more amazing when it happens 4300 miles from home.  Not surprisingly it happened over a beer.

Last summer I was fortunate enough to go to Rome.  And while I fully expected to be Beer Week event 2013 (1)seeing some amazing sights, tasting awesome food and sampling all the Italian craft beer I could find I never expected to share some of those experiences with one of my favorite publicans, none other than Fergus Carey.  As you may remember, Fergie is the generous host of our A Priest, Minister and a Rabbi Walk into a Bar events.

While we didn’t randomly bump into one another on the street (it was actually through checking in on Facebook that we discovered that we were both in Rome) what are the odds of being there at the same time?  Needless to say we could not allow this opportunity pass so we arranged to meet for an afternoon beer.

20130709_184837We met at Piazza Navona  and then took the ten minute hike to Open Baladin.  We were later joined by my lovely wife who had been out for a walk around Trastevere.  Over several rounds we talked about our travels and families.

We had such a good time that we decided to meet up again later that night for an al fresco dinner.  This time we made sure everyone got in on the fun, including Fergie’s wonderful wife and all of our children.  Sitting together on a back street we watched the other diners and shoppers as we listened to an ever changing rota of street musicians.

While our conversation seldom turned back to our lives in Philadelphia (we were on Rome 2013_855vacation after all), there was still something reassuring and even grounding to find this tangible connection to home.  And maybe that is what lies at the heart of this kind of serendipitous encounter.  Not simply the chance to catch up with a friend, but the opportunity to rekindle that sense of connection to another time or place.

What chance encounters have you had?  Who have you run into at an unexpected time or place?  How far away have you been when you bumped into someone from home?  Please let us know.

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