Archive for the ‘God Stories’ Category

Look for the Window

The view from the 9th floor of the Mercure Hotel in Perth, Australia

2020:  The year had taken its toll – leaving me stunned like a bird who flew into a windowpane and lived.  Each month had brought an unexpected challenge, a boulder to climb on the way up the mountain.  For the first nine months I kept climbing, until the avalanche – when my mother was swept away by the virus. 

Depleted of every ounce of strength, I meditated and asked for help. The message I received was simple and clear; “Each day you will be presented with a window.  Open it.”  

True to that message, each day after receiving it, a metaphorical window appeared and I was given the gift of guidance to get me through another day. 

Five weeks passed and I found myself pacing a hotel room like a caged tiger.  I’d made it back to Western Australia – a state as big as one-third of the United States and an oasis without community spread of COVID-19.  The cases in the state were coming from international travelers who were departing planes or ships.  The mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine was keeping the virus from spreading. It was challenging and confronting.  Food was delivered in a brown paper bag with a knock at the door.  I wasn’t permitted to open the door for 20 seconds, so as not to expose hotel staff should I have the virus.  There were daily “health checks” from a nurse who called to ask how I was feeling, and COVID tests. To spare the kitchen of being exposed to COVID by plates or utensils, there wasn’t any room service of prepared food.  It was one of the few systems in the world that was working – for the greater good.  It wasn’t easy but I was getting through it.  The only thing I was craving was hot, strong, creamy coffee.  

On day eight I hit a wall. Up until then I’d kept busy each day with work – drafting language to deliver to the Biden administration in hopes of getting quick rule changes for animals – and on Zoom calls in Washington, Morocco, South Africa, New York, Canada, China, the Netherlands, and Australia with people who were leading the charge to help animals in our world. To keep spirits in check, my routine also included a vegan diet combined with reading, yoga, meditating, and taking French lessons.  But on day eight, I just couldn’t move. I’d woken at 4am feeling the unbearable sadness that comes with loss.  Tears flowed endlessly, soaking into the pillow.  I succumbed to the sadness for seven hours, and at 11am, still in my pajamas, I went to the window, opened the curtains and looked down.   Nine floors below, three people – a man and two children, were holding hand-made signs facing my window.  The first sign read:  Welcome Home!  The second had a phone number on it, and the third read:  Free Coffee. 

I grabbed a white t-shirt from my suitcase and slipped it out the cracked window, waving it while yelling to the sign holders below.  “Thank you!  I love you!”  

I called the number and watched as the man below lifted the phone to his ear. 


 “You just made my day,” I said, simultaneously waving the flag. “Do you see me?” 

He looked up.

“Yes! May I buy you a coffee,” he asked.  

 “I just want you to know that your kindness has made my day.  I’m having a hard one.  You’ve lifted my spirits.  Are those your kids with you,” I asked? 


“What’s your name?” 

“Tim,” he responded.

“Tim,” I said, “thank you for being examples of the best of humanity.”   

We continued to talk and Tim explained that he knew what it felt to be quarantined in the hotel.  As an American living in Australia, he’d arrived back from the United States in September, after spending three months in Memphis with his sister, who was being treated for triple-negative breast cancer.  

He asked where I’d flown in from and I told him Boston.  

“Do you know Manchester?  I have a brother there,” he said.

 “Manchester, New Hampshire,” I questioned.  

“Yes,” he said.

“That’s where I’ve just come from.  My Mom died of COVID there.”

I watched as Tim walked away from his kids, his voice catching.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, as I started to cry.   

“And you know what else… my dog died while I was on my way here to be with her.”  

“Please let me buy you a coffee,” he said. 

 “Thank you. I’d love that. You have no idea how much I’ve craved a coffee.”

“Yes, I do,” he responded.  

When we finished talking, I watched as he knelt in front of his children.  They put their signs down and sat on the pavement, listening to him intently.  I knew he was telling them about the woman in the hotel and I was hoping he was telling them about the good they’d created in her heart. 

An extra-hot soy latte arrived at my door 10 minutes later.  I drank it while looking out the window, feeling so grateful for the many gifts they had instantly bestowed upon me. 

As the days passed, Tim and his son and daughter were often on my mind. I wanted to know more about them because I knew they’d come into my life for a reason.  And then one day I looked out my window and there he was again, holding his sign.  I grabbed my phone to call and saw there was already a text from him on it. 

 “Hey, hey!! How’s about a Coffee?” 

I called and thanked him but said that thanks to him, I’d already ordered one.  But I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I asked him a personal question.  I’d been wondering if, on the day we met, when I saw him kneeling on the sidewalk with his children, if they had prayed for me.  “Yes, we were praying for you, prayed God would strengthen you, build you up and give you some peace while you were in that room for 14 days. I believe in love your neighbor as yourself,” he said.  “We have a family saying and start each day with these words; Love God, Love Others, Be Excellent.”

Look for the window, my friends.  Let us be thankful for the lessons, the gifts, the friendships, and the love. Hang on, hold tight, have faith.  ~Jennifer Skiff

*More than 100,000 people have served hotel quarantine in Australia since the start of the pandemic. Tim has established a Go-Fund-Me page to continue his good work – offering coffee and hope.  If you’d like to be the light that shines on someone’s day, feel free to join Tim and his kids by buying a stranger a coffee here:

Jennifer Skiff is the author of the books, God Stories, The Divinity of Dogs, and Rescuing Ladybugs.  She is the Director of International Programs for Animal Wellness Action & The Center for a Humane Economy and serves as a diplomatic strategist for SPCA International.

Good People (Tim & Family)