"I have experienced the Cross to mean mercy and not cruelty, truth and not deception: that the news of the truth and love of Jesus is indeed the true good news, but in our time it speaks out in strange places."
~ Thomas Merton, A Life in Letters
Have you witnessed the love and truth of Jesus in an unexpected place? Perhaps a random act of kindness and compassion when you least expected? If so...please share :)....
After reading this quote I was contemplating on whether or not I had come across a time of compassion and love, perhaps from a stranger, in an unexpected place. An experience I had quite some years ago kept rising to the surface of my thoughts. I'm not sure if it's exactly the kind of experience the quote is referring to, but it's one I thought of that displayed a random act of empathy and compassion... and would love to hear any stories that any of you might be inspired to share.
My daughter and I were driving home on a night where the sky seemed to split wide open, spilling forth it's fury. It had quickly began to accumulate, leaving deep puddles in it's wake where hydroplaning was certain if a cautious speed wasn't used. I could hardly make out reality beyond the interior of my car as looking around out of any window, even the driver's for the most part was a blur, an abstract painting best entitled "chaotic watery mess!". We were nearing the top of a hill on a busy intersection right outside our state's capital leading to the heart of the city. We lived on the outskirts and we were only about two miles from our house. My car just died. Right on the very top of the hill at the intersection in a very precarious location.
I was afraid of the car getting hit. My daughter was strapped into her car seat at the time and only about ten months old. Cars were speeding by, trying to beat the light and not get caught behind me and narrowly missing hitting our car in the process. I decided that there was a store about a half a mile off up the road and I would try to walk to it with my daughter.
I soon found myself walking in a near tropical storm with a baby in my arms praying that we'd get to our destination soon and find ourselves in the warmth of the grocery store, to be safely picked up by my husband at some point. My daughter started to fidget and protest, crying softly in my arms. I kept hushing her, patting her back reassuringly as Istepped carefully, wading through puddles, being splashed by cars passing by.
Out of the blue a mini-van pulled up to us. It was a young mother with a child in her back seat. She had recognized our plight and had seen that we had a real need to get out of the elements and the paths of cars. Even though there was a shoulder to the road, the road was busy, it wouldn't have been one I would have walked on for recreation.
Where we lived used to be inhabited almost exclusively by old polish immigrants who had settled there after coming to America but now crime was becoming more and more of an issue. There were many hard working individuals from different cultures moving in but it was also experiencing a steady rise in crime. Our cars were broken into twice while living there! People were polite, but very few neighbors really new each other or trusted each other for that matter. A passing wave was as much community as we experienced, talking was just about non-existent.
This mother had let her guard down knowing that I was in a moment of desperation. She let compassion guide her and when I hopped eagerly in her van, finding warmth once again, I saw kindness in her eyes as I allowed myself to blindly trust her, my child clinging to me in my arms. I never even got her name but I've always thought of how beautiful it was that she was willing to have the courage and stop and help a mother and baby stuck in a storm when everyone else just passed by. She drove us home and I remember as we got out of her van thanking her profusely, knowing if it wasn't for her, I didn't know at what hour we would have returned to our home. Now I could change our wet clothes into dry ones and put my daughter safely to bed.
We thank you for your mercy and grace. For your steadfast love and compassion. May we bring your love and truth everywhere we go, whether it be to work or the grocery store. May people see the light of Christ when they look in our eyes. May your light vanquish darkness and resonate in every corner of the world, however likely or unlikely. Help us to discover all of life's circumstances as an opportunity for bringing you glory and reaching out to others in love. May we reach out to others with boldness and courage, breaking down boundaries and stereotypes. May your love triumph over fear, over cynicism, over apathy.
In the name of Jesus,