It is not uncommon today to witness cell phones and other technological marvels protruding out of ear canals like some alien appendage, creating isolated robots seemingly talking to themselves or marching to the beat of their favorite tunes. It's difficult to make eye contact with people anymore, let alone strike up a conversation.

But here's the thing…ten seconds. That's all it takes to transport us from our safe, comfortable zone to a breathtaking view from another dimension, where lives intersect for one brief moment and create a fusion of seemingly disjoined experiences, forming a web of inter-connection and meaning.

Women create bridges by connectingWomen create bridges by connecting with people in the oddest as well as the most common places. We strike up conversations in public washrooms, play groups, bus stops, supermarkets, vacations. That is where we met David and Marlene.

My husband and I are vacationing in Palm Desert with our youngest daughter, Jessica, and it takes approximately ten seconds to begin the process. Our fifteen-year-old often comments on how we apparently talk to everyone, and now she throws me a "look." I think she wants to dissolve and hide under her towel.

I begin nonetheless. "Hi. How are you? Where are you from?" They are such an attractive couple. She is a diminutive, dark-haired beauty with large sunglasses and he, a handsome salt-and-pepper haired guy with a warm, infectious smile. It seems as if they don't have a care in the world. They look good together, like they have been with each other forever; however it turns out that this is not the first marriage for either. They come from Canada, like us, not too far away. And we talk, creating little squares of fabric which eventually become a huge, cozy quilt.

At one point the banter moves from generic to personal and I literally feel the heat of the sun dissolving all barriers as Marlene eventually removes her protective sunglasses, peeling away a layer of insulation and revealing strikingly piercing, intelligent eyes. Suddenly I feel as though she is injecting us all with a single, potent dose of humanity and warmth. She tilts her head back a little and looks into my eyes as if I am the test strip to analyze our worthiness for the step into the next level.

We apparently pass the test. David and Marlene glance at each other in silent agreement before confiding how his rare lung disease requires them to travel to warm destinations on a limited budget throughout the winter. They must do this to buy time, and keep him relatively comfortable. David stands shyly, interjecting a few words here and there, as we discover how this couple has asked G‑d to bring Jews into their lives, how they feel connected to the Jewish people.

Hours pass like seconds Hours pass like seconds and we find out how much we have in common. David's elderly father lived with them until he passed away; my mother resides with us which is unusual in today's world. They have four children, as do we. The similarities are striking, and I comment on the coincidence. Marlene looks at me again, revealing her insightful, sunny smile. "There are no coincidences," she replies.

David, a former director of a high-school music department, sighs happily as he tells us about his students. He misses them way too much to stay away, so he helps out with organizing school trips. Not once does this big teddy bear of a man invite pity into the discussion. On the contrary, his eyes sparkle as he talks and his attitude conveys optimism, joy and gratitude with every word he utters. Jessica leans over and whispers, "I wish I had a teacher like him."

This is no ordinary man. He is clearly a gifted, brilliant teacher who is respected and loved by peers and students alike. We all express disappointment that they are on the tail-end of their vacation. So little time, we lament, but no matter - time evaporates when conversations become priceless life lessons.

We exchange e-mail addresses and I send them a message to greet them upon their return home. David replies instantly: "What a wonderful treat to receive your refreshing message awaiting us amidst all the reams of tedious ones piling up after being away. It's too bad we couldn't have met earlier in our vacation, but we are thankful for every blessing G‑d sends our way. He knows our needs and provides for us exceedingly, abundantly, more than we ask for."

A few hours later, still floating from David's heartwarming message and feeling very blessed for the honor of meeting these exceptional people, we return to the pool area for a refreshing swim.

It is there that we experience our next meaningful encounter, in the form of Mary, a youthful seventy-year-old from Chicago. This active senior, we discover, works with inner city kids as a volunteer. Her eyes actually seem to dance with enthusiasm as she tells us about the hugs she receives from "her" beloved children every day. We eventually find out that Mary also regularly drives disadvantaged children to visit their mothers in prison. "I do it for selfish reasons," she says, "It keeps me occupied." But we know better.

This humble woman is a giftThis humble woman is a gift to her community. We spend a couple of hours chatting, and see her again, two days later, catching up on our various activities. We exchange e-mail addresses and before parting ways she delights us with her stories about her life, her husband, the children and grandchildren.

It's late Wednesday night and we are approaching the end of our vacation. We decide to go out to eat. Our server, Mark, gives us his spiel about the menu. There's an outstanding deal on the appetizers tonight, he tells us.

"So, how are you?" Our ten second introduction has begun. My husband pipes in, "You originally from around here?" Actually, the friendly young man replies, his family resides in another county. He recently moved here with his bride. Mark admits that he is seriously interested in banking. In fact, this is his last week at the restaurant before embarking on his new path in life. He disappears for a few minutes, returning with some more food. We continue talking, and suddenly, unexpectedly, Mark (as if this is the most natural thing in the world) pulls up a chair and leans in for the rest of our talk.

Jessica throws me "the look" - but this time, she smiles knowingly.