If I've told this story already, please let me know. I've told it verbally to a good many people, but I don't believe I've written the story on my blog. On my trip to England, I flew into Manchester Airport, and, since I was going to London for the first leg of my trip, I had to take the train south. When I purchased my ticket, the agent told me I'd have to take the train to Newcastle first. I said, "To Newcastle?!" and the agent said yes. All right, then.
I caught the train for Newcastle and sat next to two English ladies from Chester le Street, and we began to talk. I told them I didn't understand why I had to go north to Newcastle, in order to get south to London. They looked at the slip of paper that came with my ticket, and one woman said, 'Oh no! You get off this train at the next stop, at the Manchester Piccadilly Station, and then catch a train to London.' I thanked them profusely for saving me a long, out-of-the-way ride, because I would have stayed on the train all the way to Newcastle.
They knew from my accent that I was from the US, and they asked me where I was going in England. I said London first, then the West Country, then up North to Leeds and Newcastle. And one woman said, 'All alone?' I said no, that I had friends all over England. And she said, 'How did you come to meet so many English friends?'
Long pause. Finally, in a weak voice, I said, 'I met them online.' Their eyes grew wide, and I could see the wheels turning. 'Is this old woman madly active in online dating services?' I started to explain about blogs and blog communities, and then it was time for me to get off the train. They helped me with my luggage, and they were gone before I had time to give them a fuller explanation. Even if I'd had time to say more, I wonder if the ladies would have understood.
I marvel myself at all the wonderful people I've met through the blog community, and I have no doubt that we are a community, because we care about one another and for one another. We pray for each other, laugh together, cry together, mourn together, and rejoice together. Although in my offline life, I have many relationships and much to occupy me, I would not, for the world, have missed my connections with you, my blog community. You have been a grace and a blessing to me. You have enriched my life in ways far beyond what you will ever know or realize. I thank God for you, and I thank you for coming into my life.