We live in a busy world. A busy, busy world.
We are always running from one thing to the next, heads down, eyes glued to our smartphones and ipads and devices too busy to look up for a second to smile at the person passing us. We are busy making superficial connections on Facebook and are starved for genuine connections in our real lives.
Today I read a post called Touching Souls that Tabor wrote. It is a great reminder of why we are on this earth to begin with. I was meant to read that post this morning.
It was time to pick Ben up from school and I was running late. My garage door opener had frozen again and I had to run back to the house to close the garage door making me just late enough to worry that Ben would be the last kid waiting.
As I sped down the street I saw a woman standing on the corner by the bus stop. I probably wouldn't have even noticed her at all had it not been for her dog. A sweet-looking yellow lab stood vigilantly by the woman, her fluorescent yellow "Working Dog" vest across her back. I noticed the dog was holding her paw in the air. She tried to stand on it for a second, and then picked it up again. I glanced up at the thermometer on my mirror, 8 degrees. Her poor paws were probably freezing.
For a second I thought about picking the stranger up and giving her a ride. I glanced at the clock again. Already two minutes late. No time for strangers.
I got to Ben's school just as he was leaving the building. I had an errand to run, but for my own piece of mind I decided to check and make sure the woman and her dog had already caught the bus. I drove back the way I came and saw the woman and her dog still standing on the corner. This time I noticed the woman didn't have a hat or gloves.
I started to pull over, glanced at them again, and then pulled away. What woman is going to take a ride from a stranger? She won't want a ride from me. She'll probably be embarrassed, or think I'm crazy.
I went on my way and proceeded on to my errand of getting Tommy's zipper fixed on his coat. I hurried into the shop, had the zipper fixed, and got back into the car.
"Alrighty, kiddos. We're on our way home now." I told Ben and Grace, all the while still thinking about the lady and her dog. I really hoped the bus had stopped by now. I decided to take one last drive past to see if they were still there.
As I approached the corner I could see the woman and her dog making their way across the busy street to stand on the opposite corner. They both looked so cold. This time I stopped thinking.
"Okay, kids. We're making one last stop!" I announced.
I pulled my minivan over and got out.
"Ma'am? Are you waiting for the bus?" I asked her warily.
"Yes, I am. But I'm not familiar with this area and I don't know if it comes this way." she answered.
"Can I give you a ride? It is too cold to be waiting outside for the bus. I saw you when I was on my way to pick my son up from school and that was quite some time ago." I told her.
"Yeah. I've been here for almost an hour. My feet are so cold." she said.
"I bet. I saw your dog lifting her feet up too. I think she is cold as well. Please, let me give you a ride." I said again.
"Well, I'm going all the way to the far south side of town." she warned me.
"That's fine. I really don't mind." I assured her.
"Okay. Thank you so much. I'm really cold." she said gratefully.
I made room in the front passenger side of my minivan so that she and her dog had enough room. I got back in and turned the heaters up full blast as she told me her name, Sue, and where she lived.
Sue admitted to me that she really isn't supposed to be crossing busy streets because she can't see the cars coming but that she was not familiar with where the bus would be stopping. She was very nervous crossing the icy street as she had just fallen on a bad ice patch a few weeks ago. As she spoke, Bella, her guide dog, sat at Sue's feet with her face resting on Sue's chest. I asked how long Sue has had Bella and she told me it has been 2 years. Bella makes a huge difference in Sue's life. She used to need someone with her everywhere she went. Now she has Bella, and their bond is undeniable.
As we drove on she told me how challenging winter is for her. Bella is wonderful but can not point out ice patches and Sue has a hard time getting around. I asked if she has friends in the area that can give her a ride from time to time. A few, but they work so it is hard for them. She has an adult son living with her but he works third shift and sleeps during the day. I got the impression that she does not want to be a bother.
As we pulled up to her apartment I got out a piece of paper and wrote down my name and phone number with strict instructions to call me if she found herself without a ride in this hideous cold weather again. She thanked me many times as she and Bella got out of the car together.
The rest of our ride home was filled with questions from the kids, and explanations from me.
"No, you really shouldn't talk to strangers, but mommy is an adult and I felt that Sue needed help."
"Yes, it was okay for you to talk to Sue because I was right here with you."
"No, I don't think daddy will be mad that mommy gave a stranger a ride."
"Yes, Sue is blind and can't see and that is why she can't drive herself."
"I don't really know how Bella knows where Sue is going but she is a very specially trained dog."
"Yes, Bella is awesome but you're right, Molly is still my favorite dog."
I'm not sure if Sue will call me for a ride in the future but I am thankful that I was able to be there for her and Bella today. And I'm thankful for Tabor and her beautifully written post that reminded me why we are all here on earth together. We are here to love each other. That really should be our sole purpose in life. Just love. Had I not read that this morning my eyes may not have been open to see a need in front of me and an opportunity to show love.
I pray that as a society we all become more connected, more invested in each other. In the meantime, let's start small. Smile more. Hold doors. Make eye contact. Offer hugs. Be a listener. Lend a hand. Even the smallest act can make a big impact. Look for opportunities to serve. To connect. To love.
I was not going to post this story. In Matthew 6:3-4 it says that when you do a good deed you should not go around announcing it. You should do it in secret so that only God knows. But I am sharing this story because Tabor shared her story. And because I was able to witness her compassion it reminded me that I need to have my eyes open, and my heart open, as well. I think that the more we have our eyes open to serve God the more we see God working in our lives and in the world.