My thoughts told me the young man with the back pack looking intently into his phone was a most unlikely person to want to talk to a 60 year old woman who might offer him a Buddha.
But I am learning to trust another deeper sense that arises when I am out on my pilgrimage walks.
So I sat a respectful distance away from him on the same ledge and settled with patience.
Before long a few sparrows, those that encourage people in Federation square to share their lunch, came into this space between us.
The young man ( I was wrongly guessing he was a student ) ever so carefully began to feed the birds small pieces of his food.
There was something about how mindfully and gently he was making these offerings that gave me courage to traverse the few metres across the ledge and engage with him, Buddha bag in hand.
I usually wait until a general discussion with someone opens up a natural space before I mention the Buddhas …but this time it was different.
“Seeing the kind way you interacted with the birds has inspired me to offer you something.”I began.
“These are gifts from people all around the world, would you like to choose one ?”
His face lit up with recognition as I opened the bag.
“Buddhas !” he beamed.
I discovered he had arrived in Australia from Nepal only this year. His wife was a Buddhist, studying in a Melbourne. He enthusiastically told me about the Buddhist sites I could see in Nepal and encouraged me to consider visiting there one day.
I asked what he loved most about his home country.
“Everything !” was the emphatic answer. And I knew it was true.
Bringing his love of Nepal into the busy hub of Melbourne city reminded me of what it can be like to arrive in a new place to live knowing very few people.
And when he chose a Buddha to give to his wife I was delighted to see it had been a gift from someone who had welcomed me kindly when I went to live and work in another country not so long ago.
I also learnt that he was looking for work and willing to do any job. My brother has a business and occasionally needs casual workers, so this gentle Nepalese man gave me his name and phone number and we can see what arises. Despite having known him only for half an hour I felt confident he would be committed and reliable in whatever he turned his hand to.
So yet again I am grateful to the birds for opening up an ease of connection with a fellow human being.
Buddha a gift from Amritamati, Wales.