So often we live believing everyone clearly sees us, and mistakenly judge others from that point of view. Every once in a while we may be blessed by situations that provide startling shifts, conflicting insights and unanticipated reflections that may humble the proudest among us.
It was like any other spring day in Florida. The sun was shining, the heat was unbearable and the humidity was disturbingly drenching. I had just finished mailing a few packages at the local post office when I exited the building, stepped out from under the awning and into the bright Florida sun. It was about half past eleven when, with the sun to my back, I came out from those shadows and into the crosswalk area leading toward the parking lot.
I’m typically a very brisk walker and usually cover the ground from the exit to my parked car in no time at all. This day though felt different and it was as I was in midstride and half way through my path that I noticed a huge white utility truck pulling out into the crosswalk path and right toward me. Alarmed, I stopped and backed up quickly, waving my raised arms wildly trying to get the driver’s attention as I did.
It was where I was planning to step that the driver finally saw he was about to hit me and slammed on his breaks. His widened eyes took a while to come out of that shocked look you get when you realize what you could have done. On the other hand, I was dealing with my own racing heart and uncomfortably indignant thoughts all presupposing that I had the right of way coupled with an assumption that he was just a rude and inconsiderate trucker.
The startled driver looked out his dirty sun-glared windshield and expressed what looked to be an exaggerated shoulder shrug as he hit the gas and continued on his way.
I worked my way back to my car, still nursing a fast paced heart and troubled mind. The heat from the car blanketed me as I open the door and slid into its hot seat. The sweat poured from my brow even though the blasting air conditioner blanketed me. Engaging reverse, I backed out of my spot, put my car into drive and pulled forward into the crosswalk area that I had just walked through moments before.
And in that moment I found myself slamming on my breaks; just as I was about to hit a woman coming out of the post office shadows and into the crosswalk area light.
She quickly walked past my stopped car, earnestly apologized for walking so fast and for skirting the crosswalk lines. Still reeling from the jolt, I nervously smiled and just waved. I was having a very difficult time forgiving myself all my previous crosswalk thoughts.
When I finally reviewed how those two minutes unfolded, I fell quiet. I wondered… How many times have I been troubled by those who could not see me? How often could I have caused trouble because I could not see others? How does the Light in each of our lives blind us to those who are right before us?
I wonder still.
Brother John S. Nagy