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Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

God in Strange Places

"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.

 Heavenly Father,

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,



  1. The quote by Thomas Merton was a perfect opener for this outstanding post Jessica.
    What a nightmare you must have endured with your baby girl that distressing evening. Your gratitude to that kind stranger must know no bounds.
    I ponder your words,”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?”
    Yes I have, plenty of times. I can’t recall anything quite this dramatic (as your dire experience here), but the first thing that comes to mind is when we lost our power for nearly a week during a hurricane.
    This was a most miserable time for me. The humidity and heat were almost unbearable (with not even an electric fan). I could hardly sleep at night because I was accustomed to air conditioning. And when morning came there was no more coffee:(
    Imagine mornings without that magic potion.

    Then one day a friend came over with a carafe of the rich black brew. I thought of the parable in Matthew 25 (the sheep and the goats), and I imagined Him saying, “I was half-dead and you gave me cowboy coffee and raised me up.”

  2. I can't recall a story happening to me personally, but just recently having snow and wet weather, my husband came home one day after work and told me a story.
    There had been a man in a wheelchair who had apparently gotten off of the sidewalk and slipped into a mud filled puddle. My husband said as he got closer the the man, he could see he was struggling to get out of the puddle and his tires on his electric wheel chair just spinning to no avail. Joel told me that car after car slowed to look as passing by, but no one stopped. As he got up to the man in the wheelchair, my husband pulled off the road, well really not off the road as it was a 4 lane with sidewalks along each side. If another car wanted to continue, they would have to pull out to the other lane to get around him. As my husband went up to help the man, cars just stopped on the road to watch. Still, no one came to assist. Joel said that this was a larger man with an extra wide wheelchair. He doesn't know where the strength came to pick the man and the wheelchair up out of the mud and place him back on the sidewalk, but it did. The gentleman was very thankful, telling Joel that he would have never gotten out of there without help and that his batter would have died on the wheelchair before he could have made it home.
    Sometimes, we aren't always the ones that receive a gift of kindness, but God works through us and gives us a power that we would not naturally have at other times of our lives. We still, to this day, do not know how Joel got that man out of the mud:)

  3. a wonderful demonstration of human kindness .. thanks :)

  4. Thank you for sharing this with us..miracles do happen..if we have faith and love for God within us..beautiful place you have here....Jessica.

  5. Debra...thank you for your story! Sometimes it's the little gestures, the unexpected blessings in one's day that make the burdens a little lighter, the day a little more light-filled. We've been without electricty due to storms, or accidents on our road...it's amazing how much we grow accustomed to the common comforts..running water, lights, fans, air conditioning! I can feel your pain with going without! What a ray of light your neighbor was when she came over that morning! :)

    ~many blessings

  6. Mary...wow...isn't it crazy how so many will pass by someone who is in obvious need of help! It's sad that so many in society have adopted a "bystander" type approach and just wait and see when someone else will step in in aiding someone, instead of taking the initiative. That man was blessed to have your husband stop and help! That was a beautiful thing he did :) Thanks for sharing his story!

  7. Blessings Taboo! Thanks :)

    Thank you Motif...so glad you enjoy this blog, your comments always brighten up my moments! :)

  8. I just love these kind of stories where you can see Gods hand at work so clearly. Thank you for sharing this and the lovely prayer too. Amen is right!
    Much Love,

  9. I'm so glad you liked the post and prayer...thank you for your kind comments Deanne!