When we're the most rushed is the moment we just might be most touched by what is unfolding around us. Notice - as Beth Vogt prods.
Choosing to Have Eyes that See the Sacred
By Beth K. Vogt
At first, it was nothing more than an interruption.
My husband, Rob, and I were rushing through yet another too-busy day as we dealt with the complicated needs of his 100-year-old mother. Her health had deteriorated in recent weeks, requiring that she move to a skilled nursing facility.
This kind of crisis never happens at a convenient time, does it?
Rob and I'd made a trip back to her room at the assisted living facility to pick up some requested items, our internal clocks ticking as we squeezed this errand in between all the normal to do's of the day. As we fast-walked back to our car, we discussed the rest of our evening. Grocery shopping. Visiting his mother. Having a quick dinner with our youngest daughter. Walking the dog. Finishing up work items for both of us.
We had places to go and people to see and yes, miles to go before we slept. Rob started the engine ... and then we saw him through the glare of the evening sun in the windshield.
An elderly man pushed a walker in front of our car, taking the slight incline one measured step at a time, his shoulders hunched, his fists clenched on the handles. I hate to admit I muttered a less than gracious, "Where is he going?" as he veered left, toward the car parked next to ours. Then he positioned his walker near Rob's door, proceeding to open the passenger door of his car, effectively blocking us in.
Couldn't he tell we were waiting to pull out of the parking space?
His face was shadowed by the brim of a baseball cap, his skin marked with age spots. One by one, he removed clown dolls from the seat of the walker. I caught glimpses of bright orange yarn hair. Miniature clown shoes. Billowy pants. A ceramic hand holding a bunch of balloons.
As he placed each doll into the car, the man's face crumpled. His chin quivered. The wrinkles lining his face deepened.
No longer were Rob and I witnessing an unwanted interruption. We were spectators of a sacred moment of grief.
We could only guess the dolls belonged to the man's wife, who'd recently died, and now he was required to empty her room at the assisted living facility. What remained of the woman he loved were these dolls - and his memories of the times he gave them to her. Christmas, perhaps. Her birthday. Their anniversary.
Rob and I sat in silence, all thoughts of wanting this man to move faster gone. There's no rushing another's grief, especially when you unknowingly stumble into it. What had to be done - and the memories that no doubt accompanied this man as he turned to make another trip back to the facility - were so much more important than any of the errands Rob and I needed to run.
How often do we pass by someone, irritated by their attitude or even their lack of interaction with us? We may have taken a cursory glance at what's going on - at who they are - and not seen the burden weighing down their heart, shaping their response. A sharp tone may be a hint that someone is in physical or emotional pain. Reticence might mean someone struggles with hearing or vision loss ... or emotional loss. Someone's interruption of our lives might be an intersection of the normal with the sacred - but we have to be willing to stop and see them anew, with eyes of grace.
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she'd never write fiction. She's the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she'd never marry a doctor - or anyone in the military. She's a mom of four who said she'd never have kids. Now Beth believes God's best often waits behind the doors marked "Never." As a contemporary romance novelist, Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2015 RITA® Finalist and a three-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. Connect with Beth at www.bethvogt.com. Her most recent releases are Moments We Forget and Things I Never Told You.