The light changed. She accelerated and rounded the corner. It was early morning on a blustery, cold March Saturday. She was still somewhat resentful that she had been deprived of sleeping in on her first day of Spring Break. Who in their right mind has an early morning birthday party? These thoughts she kept to herself. She didn’t want to put a damper on her son’s excitement. Her mind wandered to other things – mundane, everyday things. Cars passed, buildings passed. She was grateful she was in her warm car with the heat turned on and the seat warmers blasting. This thought had just crossed her mind when she passed the bus stop. Gathered there that cold, cold morning were a small group of scraggly strangers – waiting. A gust of wind pushed the car slightly towards them. As she sped by she saw the woman. Just an ordinary woman – a bit heavyset, blond hair, jeans, sneakers. She held what looked to be a cup of coffee. A light windbreaker provided her the only defense against the wind and cold. As the car passed, the woman raised her eyes heavenward and heaved a visible sigh.
That one moment captured the driver’s attention, focusing all her thoughts on this lone woman waiting for a bus that could not come fast enough. As the driver continued her journey across town a barrage of thoughts stunned her. Who was this woman? Why on earth wasn’t she dressed better for a day like this? She must be so very cold. She was obviously weary already – and the day had barely begun. Where could she be going? Perhaps home from a night shift, or perhaps on her way to work. Maybe even on her way to a second job. The woman got the distinct feeling that this lady HAD to ride the bus – she had no alternative. She could not just hop into her gas-filled car with its leather seats and working heater. She could not grab a heavy coat, scarf, hat and gloves to shield her from the elements. She seemed to be doing the best she could, but part of a hard life was having to wait for the bus, no matter the weather. It seemed routine. But today it seemed almost more than she could bear.
This deeply saddened the driver. Did she have children? Where were they? Home with a father? At a relative’s home? Had she dropped them off as some daycare so she could go to a menial job on the weekend? Would she do the same again tomorrow? And the next day…..?
The figure of this lady stayed with the driver all day. It got her thinking about all the nameless people she drove by or walked by or stood in line behind or lived near who led such very different lives from hers. Who struggled for the basics while she never gave these a second thought. Who worked so hard, but had so little while she complained about needing more. These invisible people who were overlooked by most of the world – but who were just as important, who each had their own story to tell. How could she continue to complain? What right did she have? How could she continue to ignore them? How could she make a difference? What other invisible people were there whom she encountered each day? Were there any in her classroom? School? What more could she do besides being grateful for all the blessings in her life? That seemed selfish. She wasn’t quite sure how to help. Small steps, she told herself. Start somewhere. She vowed to try to become more aware of those around her as a start. Pay attention. Don’t overlook. Be kind. Be patient. Offer a smile. Continue to be grateful. Be understanding. Practice love. A tall order… even this first step. Could it be done?
Quote for the day: How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank