Two encounters though, the red car and William, have me flipping back and forth between the pages of my week and just won’t let me rest. It’s like when you finish a good book, and you keep going back through the parts that affected you the most. The paragraphs, the thoughts - the carefully chosen words that changed you… This is where I am this morning while the rest of my house sleeps.
The red car. It is Sunday afternoon. We are on our way home from “The Walmarts” as we jokingly say. We are the first car waiting to turn left across a busy intersection on a familiar journey home. I confess my life feels rushed at the moment. When I am not at work, I am planning a wedding, selling a house, buying a house, talking about repairs and inspections, planning a move, and it goes on. It reads like a lot of work. However, at this moment we are in no particular rush. We are enjoying the afternoon together and thinking of our life ahead. It is a precious and ordinary moment.
Our light turns green. Scott begins to pull forward into the intersection. I am on the phone, talking to my daughter and paying zero attention when this red car comes blasting through the intersection from the left. We are hit! No! We brake hard! We lunge forward! I can feel the impact of the near miss as though we crashed, but we somehow escaped! We look at each other to process the event – We can’t. It was heart-stopping, unfathomable instant that was totally out of our control, and we both realize something else as we catch our breath. We were almost killed. We really almost died. Had we rushed into the intersection, had the events happened a moment in time sooner or later it would have changed everything. It would not have been just a scrape and an insurance claim. There would have been glass, the smell of air-bags and the sound of metal and sirens. We have no doubt. But we are amazingly and totally okay.
I am fine, but I am not okay. I know. I have stood at the grave enough. I know. In an instant. No more to-do lists. No more weekly meetings. No more wedding to plan. No more. We don’t realize how close we walk to the edge daily. We don’t realize the power of a random encounter.
William. It is now Friday. I am slowing down. My daughter, Hatty, wanted to hang out and get pedicures. We meet at our favorite funny, little salon – squeezed between the sub-shop and the liquor store – it is perfect. There are no frills. There is only room for friendly banter and efficiency within this tiny entrepreneurial space, and we feel like regulars. Tony is busy, but he gives us each a chair flanking a gentleman who is soaking and waiting.
I still have one more email, and since we can’t talk across the man in the middle, I busy myself with it. But, Hatty meets William. And, before long we are hearing his story. He speaks softly and smiles as we learn that he is a Chaplin and works on college campuses with male athletes. He teaches them many things about life that men should know. He says that many of them grew up without fathers and they just didn’t learn how to be “gentlemen”. Before that, he ran a half-way house. Before that, he was in prison. William was saved and forever changed when a stranger came to the prison and looked him in the eye and told him that Jesus loved him and he didn’t need to commit suicide (he could not have known that William was planning to end his life later that night). He spends his life impacting the lives of others because he knows. He knows how close he has walked to the edge. He knows the profound power of a random encounter.
William went on to bless us as we talked and he spoke of his love for Jesus, and his passion, and his hope of finding a good woman who was under 150 pounds. J As we left, he told us to pray for him. Which we did at dinner an hour later. We were both altered by our encounter with William.
Thank you for the red car that was a half-second too early. Thank you for William who was right on time.
#justwrite #choosejoy #daughtersofjoy