I learned something about the human spirit yesterday. I’m certain that challenges such as this are presented for a reason.
I was in need of cash and pulled into the credit union to use the ATM. As I parked my car, I noticed the woman in the car next to mine. She looked to be close to my age, with short blonde hair pulled back to a nub. She held a cellphone to her ear with one hand and rested her head in the other hand. Obviously, there was something distressing her. Her body was slumped forward, the energy escaping her body and a sense of resignation replacing it. Despite being curious, I proceeded to make my withdrawal. When I returned to my car, the woman had ended her phone call and her head was now supported in both hands, her fingers covering her eyes. I could see her breathing had become labored from watching her shoulders rapidly rising and falling, as if she were crying. In the back seat of her car were suitcases and shopping bags filled with clothes. On the seat next to her was a travel case, which I assumed carried toiletries.
As I got into my car, I repeatedly glanced over at the woman. I wondered what was her situation. Was she abused and had hastily left her assailant? Was she kicked out of her home and living in her car? Was she transient, in between places to live, and was unsuccessful at finding a new place to rest her head? Looking over towards the woman, my gaze lingered a bit longer to allow myself a chance to study her. There was something in my heart that compelled me to approach her. It became important to me to see if she needed assistance. I opened my door and approached the window on the passenger side. Lightly tapping the glass to get her attention, she turned her head towards me. “Are you alright?”, I asked. She reached for the switch on her armrest to roll down the power window. The smell of stale cigarettes assaulted my senses. Her face had a look of someone who led a hard life. I repeated, “are you alright?” “I’m fine”, she replied. “Thank you for asking.” She seemed surprised that a complete stranger would be concerned. Her voice had a tinge of sadness, but also of gratitude. I turned away and returned to my car. As I drove away, I hoped that she would be alright, that she would find what she was looking for.
I tell you this story not to be self-serving. To see this woman in that state, looking like she had lost all hope, wondering where her next steps would lead her, reminded me that there are many today in the similar situations. I have been in similar places. It’s difficult to see the light when the darkness is so overwhelming.
I hope that you will find yourself in a similar situation. I say this because we sometimes forget that we are all interconnected and interdependent. As we sit in our virtual worlds, be reminded that the real world will help you reconnect with who you are, and with what is important. Seek out friends, reach out to neighbors, and make yourself available to the world, discovering fulfillment and the true meaning of our purpose.
I got a little preachy there, I know. I get that from my father. It’s from listening to his sermons on Sunday morning.