Turning the corner into the King Soopers parking lot I was aware of a young woman, a stroller, a couple of kids and a sign. Not a good place to stand because there is nowhere for cars to safely stop when going in that direction. Not a way for a young family to be spending a Sunday afternoon. Not the direction I planned to continue to my next stop. I was in a hurry for just two items. Something stirred inside me. What would make the day a little better for those kids? What doesn’t need refrigeration? How old was the occupant of the stroller? I bought some cheese sticks and some small containers of apple sauce and pulled a twenty-dollar bill from the bank envelope sure that they would be gone when I went back because “those people” always are. They were still there. I handed the bag and the twenty out the window and left as they waved: “Thank you so much!” “Thank you so much!” “Thank you so much!”
I was nearly in tears as I drove off.
Why was I only thinking about this afternoon? Why didn’t I get them a bag of apples or Little Cuties? Why didn’t I give them two twenties? Why didn’t I give them the whole bank envelope? I was going to make cherry preserves with my daughter and we have so much more than that little family. Why hadn’t I stopped and asked their names? Why hadn’t I taken the time to ask their story? Why was I feeling so awful when I meant to do something kind?
As I drove along I became aware of an interview taking place on my car radio. An African guide was relating a story of a baby elephant he had observed that was born with a deformed pelvis. When he first saw the invalid, he was certain it would not survive. Five years later there it was still traveling in its herd. This time the elephants were crossing a river and the youngster couldn’t climb up the muddy bank and kept slipping back into the water. Finally, one of the elephants got behind and pushed. Obviously, the herd was keeping this child alive. They move slower and accommodate the needs of the one.
The guide spoke of a word that sounded like ““obunto”” which means Cathedral of the World.
As I arrived at my destination I did something I immediately regretted. I turned off the ignition and the story disappeared. By the time I got it back the guide had been asked what he wants to be thinking when he is forty years old. He said: “I want to live in deep acceptance of how it is”. I had the feeling that God was answering my question. Sort of.
As we worked on the preserves my daughter related that she and her husband try to stop and ask (usually its women) their story and what they need. Then while they do their shopping they try to purchase some, at least, of what is needed by that woman. I like that idea. I know my daughter-in-law carries a bag of power bars and my grandson hands them out. Maybe that’s all I can do. Like the elephant, give a little push, and hope and pray our herd will slow down and help too. And that we can also learn to live “in deep acceptance of how it is”.
Ann Dolbier is a friend and supporter of Celtic Way