Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reflecting on the Season of Hope

He leaned on the counter shaking his head and vigorously scratching out the name on the return address. I had just run into the post office for a quick drop off of one last holiday card and was ready to turn around just as quickly out the door. The man still standing at the counter caught my eye. He began mumbling something inaudible as he looked at the letter.

Looking at me, he said, "I don't know how to stop these."

I paused in my tracks. "What did you say?" I inquired.

"I get these letters and I wish they would stop."

"Could you contact them and ask the them to stop sending the letters to you?" I asked not knowing what he was talking about or who sent them.

"I wish I had never been in that hospital. They keep sending me these checks. I just saw a pastor and asked him to bless it. I am just trying to keep a roof over my head."

I didn't know how to respond. I slowed down my sense of urgency to run out the door and quietly said, "Maybe you can think of these as a gift that you need right now. A gift until you get back on your feet."

The man turned to me, reached out, gave me a hug and quietly said, "Thank you."

The traffic was bumper to bumper on the four lanes in the small community. Everyone was rushing to finish  their errands before the busy holidays. I was in the middle of the traffic rush and glancing ahead the light was green. Cars all around me were flowing at a speed that was probably faster than the posted speed limit. I was driving in the right lane of the two lane traffic on my side of the road. A car next to me suddenly opened their door and trash blew out. I thought, "How stupid to throw trash into the traffic right now."

The car door didn't close. A woman turned towards the door. I realized in an instance that she was going to jump. I looked at her. We locked eyes for just a moment. I screamed out through my closed vehicle, "Please don't. Don't jump." I knew she couldn't hear me but somehow we connected. She stared at me. I saw the tears streaming down her face. She turned and closed the car door.

I was shaking as I continued to drive. What just happened? I glanced in my rear view mirror. I could see the driver yelling at her. I could see her still crying.

As I continued driving and tried to calm my racing heart, I wondered what she was going through to make her want to take that action. If she had jumped, the chain reaction and the many lives she would have impacted in that split second would have been tragic. With the traffic moving so fast, she would have been critically hurt or killed. I would have slammed on my brakes (I am not sure why I didn't do this in the moment as it was) and other cars would have slammed into each other. Several people would have been hurt.

This woman, like the man earlier, was desperate. He wanted the checks to stop. She wanted to jump. I am relieved that she did not jump. I wish for her that in that moment she realized that she needed help but jumping was not the answer.

We may never know when we cross someone's path for a moment or a lifetime the true reason for our connection. We only know that we connected. I do know that in meeting even for a fleeting moment that there can be a connection and hope. We just need to take the time to slow down, be open, listen and be present.

I hope for you in 2011 that there will be hope for all that is possible. Happy New Year!