Welcome to the 2014 BlogBlast For Peace! We hope you are finding inspiration and joy all over the blogosphere today. Please leave your link in the Mr.Linky below so that others may find your work. You can even post your Facebook links below in the comment section too. Many people are using Facebook and Twitter instead of blogs this year. Go to our Fan Page and see over 25,000 on the peace page today. You may post your link there as well. Thank you for being here. This is my story for peace day.
He was hobbling along on the side of the road with a long brown cane in his left hand and a gray plastic bag in the other. Trying to stay on the shoulder and out of traffic. I rounded the curve just in time to see him wobble a bit and just in time to make a split second decision. I pulled into the abandoned parking lot and drove directly toward him as he stepped onto the asphalt left behind by the once thriving and now out-of-business restaurant. When my car met his left foot, he stopped with a wide-eyed startled jolt.
(Really, Mimi, said the voice of my mother...what are you doing?)
Never mind that picking up strangers on the side of the road is on my NEVER-TO-DO list. Never mind that I am known as the resident Suzie Safety wherever I go. Never mind that. I didn't plan this ya know. I was just following the muse. And the muse said clear as day this morning, "Go to the river and write." That's why I was in my car in the first place on the eve of Dona nobis pacem day. Are you following me? It is all the Muse's fault. Never in all my years of peace blogging has she said go anywhere but my own backyard. But this year was different. And here I am with a strange elderly man in an abandoned parking lot in the middle of town. What's he gonna do? Hit me with a cane? I sized him up. I can take him, I thought. He can't run. If worse comes to worse, I'll grab the cane and jump in my car. I've got this.
(Really Mimi, said the voice of my mother....are you insane?)
"Do you need a ride home?" I asked. He looked confused. "Is your house near here? I will take you home if you'd like." Confusing stare. Then the arm-waving started (mine, not his) Maybe he's hard of hearing. "DO. YOU. NEED. A. RIDE.....?"
"No speak English?"
"No." Thank goodness for that Italian arm-waving gene of mine. Singing "Noche de Pas" was out of the question so I threw out all the Spanish words I knew that I could string along into a sentence- yo gracias amigo trabajar siempre amiga amigas por favor padre madre adios bueno ninito Jesus si no gracias todo duerme casa maestra escuela otro usted si no coremos (that was unlikely) canta (!) plus anunciando sietete and hola! That's about all I could think of at the moment. Does that make sense to you? No wonder it took five minutes for me to explain that I didn't want to harm him. I didn't know the word for kidnap. I was only offering a ride. My mind was aflutter and so were my arms. That way? Far? Left right? Why, oh why, did I fall asleep in Spanish class?
Aha! Donde! Donde casa? Qui?
He waved his cane in an easterly direction and I opened the car door. Finally. Communication. I was exhausted!
I looked in the backseat as he buckled up. He looked scared.
He was still firmly holding the cane and clutching his grocery bag straight through the first light. I said, "I will drive des-pa-cio (like I thought he couldn't understand it?) des.pa.ci.o!" (I was so proud of myself for remembering the word for slowly.) He nodded in agreement. I drove despacio through the second light.
I heard "No. Condominium."
Oh, you live in the condominiums??!
"Si!" he nodded with a smile. I turned left into the complex.
"NO!" I heard from the backseat. "C.o.n.d.o.m.i.n.i.u.m.s" and gestured that I should turn around. Wrong complex. I backed into the highway as he looked warily into oncoming traffic.
"Rapido! Rapido!" I screamed.
We laughed. Luckily, no one died.
Another right turn, lots more arm-waving and two dead stops in the middle of the road only to hear Yours Truly brilliantly slaughter Spanish with a nice man who probably wished by now that he'd just hit me with his cane. I finally understood that he lived across from the condominiums in a cute little white house with a lovely wooden porch. We had driven a couple of miles by now. I pulled in and he got out. He looked happy (and relieved) to be home. It would have taken him another hour walking with that cane. Smiling from the backseat "Gracias! Gracias!"
"God bless you, Sir. Mucho blessings. Adios!"
And I thought that was the end of it really. Just a short little ride and he's gone. Right?
No. (Did you know that "no" is the same in Spanish and English?)
The car door slammed and I waited for him to shuffle out of the way. Why don't I do this more often? It took 15 minutes out of my day. Why don't I? What a wonderful feeling. What is wrong with me? This is the most awesome day ever!!
Then I heard a knock knock on the passenger window. He was waving with his cane-free hand in a kind of salute-wave from the forehead, almost military-style and nodding vigorously. "Muuuuchas Muuuchas gracias. Mucho mucho mucho gracias!"
And because this was a muse-inspired moment I did what any proper pencil skirt would do; I blew an air kiss (universal languages I know). It wasn't about the muchos muchos so much as the look I saw in his beautiful dark-brown eyes. I didn't need a dictionary for that.
That I understood.
And that is the look we all know. Deep down in the waters of our souls, we know it. There is no barrier strong enough to unravel connections that happen in the most ordained of haphazard days. They aren't haphazard at all.
I want more of those days...when I am in the driver's seat. Making conscious decisions to go out of my way for the important things. Stopping for him was the most important thing I did all day. Imagine how much richer my life would be if I multiplied that fifteen minute detour even three times a day? I have to remind myself to be open and aware. To stop the car, get out, and open the door. Grace will fly right in the backseat and take up residence with a cane if you just remember to des.pa.ci.o instead of rapido. It is something my grandfather would have done. It was the way he lived his life.
Come to the river, said the muse...
But I was not about to argue with the muse. I went on down to the river because the muse said go.
"Peace is not a final destination. Peace is the road too," whispered the muse.
But sometimes we face situations when our words matter so deeply to the people we love that they can even mean the difference between life and death. Rewind.
Before I could type 'Who is this?'...I read "Oh! This is your brother! LOL"
The last time I really talked to my little brother was at my dad's funeral five years ago. It was not what I would call a good conversation. I dialed.
"Hi Sis! It's so good to hear your voice. I've been thinking a lot about you lately and I want to tell you some things."
And then he went into how his life had settled down, how he'd found his spiritual center, become a Christian, and was finding meaning and purpose in a small country church where he lived and wanted to tell me that his baptism would be next week.
"I finally know what it means to have a relationship with God," he said. "I am so happy. I've never felt so peaceful before."
Did I mention that he bears Papa's middle name?
"Mmmaybe....kind of....well, I suppose I did, yes."
"How could you forget? You put stickie notes all in it! You gave me a brand new Bible full of stickie notes, Sis."
"Ohhh...." (yep. That sounds like me)
"The preacher started talking about the book of Acts and directed us to read a certain verse. I felt a chill because I'd read it before. It was one of your stickie note verses. I just want to thank you and tell you how much I love you."
"Ohhh...." (see how lame my responses are lately, my Bloggy People?)
That somehow words you forgot you wrote make their way into the hands that need them. And back to your own.
Sometimes grace stops on the side of the road in a split-second.
So, you see...words are powerful. Our words. My words. Your words. Words. Connections are made with words. Through broken English and rolled-up car windows. Hearts are healed with words. Hearts can be broken and hurt with words. Hearts are again healed with words.
If it takes baptism in your Holy of Holies, then baptize yourself in whatever water you choose. But don't expect to rise up out of the dirty water you left without a care in the world.
Even if you can't see the way. Just walk.
Know what love would say.
Then go do what love would do.