I was so sad to hear last night that Nelson Mandela died. I met him once. I spent two weeks puttering through Ireland by myself in 2000. I was in Dublin, and I decided I would check out the Book of Kells at Trinity College one day. I was wandering around some cobblestone alleyways near the College, when I passed a procession of people wearing collegiate robes.
There was a man walking in robes with this incredibly powerful aura coming from him: one of incredible strength and loving-kindness. Just being within a close geography with him…this incredible FORCE nearly knocked me over. It literally knocked the breath out of me.
I asked a stranger standing nearby, “Who is that?” and pointed to that powerful, forceful man walking in the procession. “That’s Nelson Mandela” the stranger told me.
Honestly, I recognized the name, but I didn’t know WHO he really was. Nonetheless, that powerful force was something I had never experienced before. I followed the procession go into one of Trinity College’s building’s, and I shook Nelson Mandela’s hand and mumbled something lame like “it’s really nice to meet you.” His hands were big, warm, dry, kind of calloused and rough. It was such a lame, accidental run-in, but I’ve never forgotten it because of that unbelievable Presence he had. Since then I’ve learned a little more about what N. Mandela stood for, worked to overcome, and the personal trials he went through for his people—for ALL people. RIP to a truly great man.