I already knew there was none in the apartment, so I headed to the house shop – 2 gates down.
She sat on the makeshift bench that encircled the tree just outside the shop and seemed far away in her thoughts. In her mid-fifties, by my estimation – though well or appropriately dressed – she seemed to have the world on her shoulders.
Honestly, at that time and without my morning fix, I was NOT in the mood to be sociable. But, as I almost robotically maneuvered my way, my Spirit – for some inexplicable reason – pushed me to reach out to her. “Morning,” I said, as I tried hard to muster a smile. From far away, mechanically she answered, “morning”.
My imposition was short-lived as the shopkeeper, who had apparently gone to empty garbage, stopped and smiled at her and said, “ah how yuh so quiet”. I didn’t hear her words; but I noted his echo of them: “ohhh, ah tideh yuh ah bury yuh madda?”
He chit chatted with her for a bit, noting the rising levels of crime within the community and lamenting that the perpetrators were mostly youngsters with no regard for life.
We left her sitting there as I followed him into the shop area to get my coffee. Being the ‘village lawyer’ [every little community has one] he looked around furtively, lowered his voice and whispered to me, “ah fi har 9 year old daughter heng harself down the road last week”. My heartbeat quickened and it was then that my mind comprehended what my Spirit had discerned.
I asked him if they knew why? Did she leave a note? Was it because of her grandmother’s death? I guess I felt I had the right to ask him all those questions because, after all, he was the village lawyer! But he had no answers or additional information. All we both knew was that she was carrying the heavy “load” of the deaths of her mother and daughter — burying the mother that day, and making plans for the daughter for the near future.
It is the natural order for children to bury their parents! But, even so, I can imagine and remember the intense grief associated with burying a father or a mother. And, in a perfect world, no parent would ever be called upon to bury their child. But, this is not a perfect world, and natural and unnatural things occur every day. Today, for instance, this woman would be called upon to bear the “load” of both.
As I walked back to the front, she rose to hail a passing route taxi. For some reason, she looked in my direction and our eyes met and locked for what seemed like an eternity. I smiled at her – a smile that seemed as if it came from the depths of my soul, conveying so much more than words could ever say in a lifetime – and said, “ok”.
She paused – just for a moment – and then (to my surprise) she smiled back at me – a smile that crinkled the corners of her eyes – and said, “ah rite” as she quickly disappeared in the now waiting taxi.
I can’t tell you exactly what happened in that moment. But I can tell you what I believe happened. Have you ever been hugged by someone – just when you needed it? Well, that was it! I believe that God used that moment to send His reassuring love into the heart and mind of that woman through a simple, but caring smile. I believe that that smile (not MY smile) was enough to take her to the next point on her journey.
As I got back in and while the water boiled, I spent some time in prayer. Thanking God for (still) being able to use me and asking Him to provide sufficient strength for that woman to endure.
And then it got me thinking … we’re all going through something! Some of us just handle our challenges better than others. But our journeys are made that much harder because often times no one seems to care. No one understands. And worse, no one wants to understand. We have all been to that point of “no-where” at some point in our lives – exactly where that woman was Saturday morning. Indeed, we could be where she was now – but for the Grace of God…
I challenge you today: allow God to use you and be kinder than you have to be to the next person you meet – because a gentler world begins with you and me.
Walk good, ’til next time …