Beautiful Strangers, Continued…

I am in a clean-up mode, going through old business cards and recalling the beautiful strangers I met. Some of them became true friends, some were just passing by, but all of them had something to give and as long as my heart was peaceful enough to notice, it turned out they each had a gift for me — perhaps for you too?

Here are three little stories:

David Shkolny, the artist behind the BefriendedStranger logo

David ShkolnyI met David Shkolny, a wonderful, talented Canadian artist during Baha’i pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2007. It was turning point in my life — a time of tremendous spiritual insights and growth for me — and meeting a stranger who would soon become a friend with an amazing talent to listen and reflect on what is important in life, was a true gift. David and I kept in touch throughout these quick-passing years, and when I was thinking out loud about the idea of starting this blog:

I am still debating whether to start a new blog called
BefriendedStranger.com or to tailor an old site I’ve had, called
strannik.net (the bulgarian word for stranger) into a blog dedicated
to my spiritual growth. Any suggestions are welcome!

…he was the first of my new pilgrim friends to respond:

Dear Mitko,

What a relief you wrote – would you believe I lost your business card and have been kicking myself since? I’m so sorry!

What you say about being sustained by being at the holiest spot on earth is so right. I feel strengthened by the pilgrimage too.

Congratulations on your Baha’i activities – bounties will surely arrive.

I recently visited a city in Saskatchewan where I have close Baha’i friends and I attended a fireside with several youth seekers – wow are they radiant!

I like befriendedstranger.com myself.

You have been in my prayers my friend and I won’t forget you!

Stay in touch.
Your brother
David

The beauty of David’s character became immediately obvious as we strolled through the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa but the beauty of his creations was revealed to me over time as I observed reports of his exhibitions on Facebook and his website.

When last year I decided to revamp this blog, I approached David with a request for design help. He skillfully focused on the simple depth of the name Befriended Stranger and suggested several typographic ideas, the best of which you now see in my blog’s beautiful logo.

The Girl Blogger

Back in October 2011, on my trip back from the EBBF conference in Portugal titled “Make it Meaningful” (or was it on my way to the Music Industry Weekend in California?), while waiting for my next flight, the lovely young lady next to me and I started talking about what we were passionate about, what made our lives meaningful. It turned out, Molly Gimbel, as was her name, was passionate about wine and food and had a blog called “What a Girl Eats…”. Having helped with my family’s vineyard since childhood, I noted that Molly seemed awfully young to claim expertise in viticulture even though she spoke with remarkable confidence for somebody barely out of high school. When I asked her how could she blog about wine when she was younger than the age permitted to drink it in the U.S., she answered with aplomb that she was planning to go to New Zealand where she could study the art of wine making without restrictions. Now, whether you love grape wine or prefer The Wine of Astonishment, you have to admire this young lady’s dedication for she had apparently indeed made it to New Zealand to pursue her passion!

The Artist Educator

Back in October 2012, on a late metro ride home I sat next to another artist, Alexandra Ritzenberg, who, if I am not wrong, grew up in the DC area but was working as an art educator in Austin, TX. Alex and I had a brief but intensely deep conversation on creativity and what inspires us. We exchanged business cards and then went our ways. Check out her beautiful paintings on her website, and her lovely exhortation:

Let us pledge to inspire and motivate each other!

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