I pulled up to the Goodwill Donation Station in the back of Nob Hill Shopping Center on Center Avenue to find an old gray-haired Asian man bent over, sorting people's cast-offs and singing Italian opera at the top of his lungs.
I handed off my own cast-offs and he hopped up, incredibly agile for a man of any age, into the container to get me a receipt. I remarked that he had a beautiful voice. He stood up straight and tall above me inside the container, looked down at me into my eyes and said, "You do, too."
Obviously, he's never heard me sing.
I replied, "I might, but I haven't found it."
He said that we all have beauty in us and sometimes it is just hidden. We hide it. We need to let it out for people to enjoy.
"I'm a cook," he said. "I sing when I cook and everyone in the kitchen is happy."
His arms were now above his head as if he were spreading his radiance to the Universe. I wanted to just bask in his presence. I didn't want to leave that back parking lot.
I said, "I'm a writer and that's just what I needed to hear. Thank you."
I said, "Merry Christmas," and got back into my car and my daily grind to the lilting and powerful sounds of his soul made manifest right there at the Goodwill Station, only now a bit more inspired than when I arrived.
Sometimes God shows up in the strangest places.