Saturday, March 13, 2010

On the Way to My Very Important Life

I always drive the same route when I go to the gym. (I just wanted to say that out loud---go to the gym.) I drive along a gorgeous tree-lined street with huge, beautiful homes placed back off the road. Many times during my drive I pass a woman, walking. She's an Hispanic woman who no doubt has been folding the clothes and cleaning the bathrooms of the people in these huge homes. Dora is making the mile trek up to the bus stop by the shopping center so she can get home to her family after a long day. I know her name is Dora because when I see her, I stop and offer her a ride. In broken English, we "talk" until we get to the open shelter of the city bus stop. It's so weird. I have this huge, big car going no place too important. Dora, on the other hand, needs at least two hours a day get to work and back---on a city bus.
Both of us have our lives. When we meet, we are each "doing our lives" ---hustling and moving forward toward the next thing. Towards the next thing that will make sense or make money or make us ready for tomorrow. She, Dora, is struggling up a sloped hill on a road with no sidewalks--lugging along with her plastic bag of toss-offs from her boss lady. (Yeah, where is her boss and why doesn't she take Dora up to the bus?) I, on the other hand, am going to a facility to exercise---a place that costs money. Money that I guess I don't need in order buy groceries and pay bus fare. Both of us on the way to our lives.
I pass many "Dora's" during my day. Do you? I pass families walking in the rain with no umbrellas. Do I stop? No. I see frail people struggling with grocery carts or heavy groceries. Do I carve out that extra 75 seconds in my day to get out and help them? What about that person ahead of me in line at Kroger who has to put back that can of beans because she is $.79 short? Do I really need one more tube of Revlon Pretty in Pink lipstick if she is going without food? Hmmmm.
I am always so truly grateful when people make allowances for Taylor and me. It just takes us longer to do things. We tend to hold up lines or take more time getting routine tasks done. I can sense the irritability in folks around us at times. There's a lot of foot tapping and eye-rolling as I struggle to get Taylor back into his coat or help him down the flight of stairs. It's like they're saying, "Hurry up. You're wasting my time here. After all, I'm on the way to my life here. My very important life."

And so there's that story about the Jewish man who was left beaten on the side of the road. The priest passed him. The Levite passed him by. Both slowed down and walked a little closer to the man, but then kept walking without helping him at all. And you know how this goes: Along came an "enemy"--yes, a Samaritan--who saw, who stayed, who acted. Do you guess that the Samaritan was also on the way to living his life that day? You guess he needed to be at work or at the gym (in Jericho?)?
I bet he did. My guess is that he, too, had a very full day planned--his life was in full swing---just like ours. But, he stopped. He stopped. He got out of his own life and noticed the life of another---and to top it off, the "other" was somebody he probably didn't like too much. Holy Cow!! That's huge.

My friend Beth, has a son, Matt, at the university here. Matt is handsome, funny, brilliant and has cerebral palsy. He is confined to his motorized ,forever chair, in which he zooms up and around campus in. His attendant helps him dress before Matt makes the sidewalk trek down to campus each day. Last week, caught in a violent rain storm, Matt was motoring back towards home, drenched and unshielded from the deluge. A truck pulled up next to him. Stopped. A stranger--a man--jumped out, took off his own coat, wrapped Matt in that coat and left. No words. Like that other fellow, the Samaritan, he saw, he stayed, he acted. This man, this stranger, was not on his way to his life--no, this man was right smack dab in the middle of living his life.
Taylor reminds me that whatever we're doing at the moment is our life. Our lives are not around the corner waiting to happen. Our lives are right here, right now. What if we miss seeing each other on the road just because we are in such a hurry to be on our way---to what?? If we're always on the way to our very important lives, what is it that we have when we finally arrive there?
So, here's what I wrestle with every single day: Who the heck is my neighbor and do I really have to love him as myself? (Some faces come into my mind's eye and I think, "There just ain't no way I could love that person." Are you with me here?
So, should we stop if it looks like they could use some help?
Who will we be when we arrive in our own lives?
How will we know when we have arrived?
Whom can we tell others that we have met along our way?
On the way to our very important lives, for whom do we stop?
Whom do we love---you know.....on the way?