A few days ago, I was stopped at the corner of 38th and Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd, and I saw this man across the intersection in a shiny blue SUV crossover picking his nose- and I mean seriously digging - both nostrils with both fingers while holding a cell phone to his ear. Aside from not being sure whether to be impressed or disgusted, I got to thinking about how easy it is for us all to really believe that we are in our own little miniature worlds when we drive.
After all, isn’t that why we get so angry when someone cuts us off or gets in front of us driving five miles per hour under the speed limit? Because now they just invaded our little world – the world we deserve to operate and control. Are we that angry when someone accidentally bumps into us on the sidewalk, or when the elevator door reopens a half second after it closed to add one more person? Or do we actually find ourselves pressing the button to open the door for them as we see them rounding the corner with their Monday panicked expression and their cup of gas-station coffee? And yet that might be the same person we cuss under our breaths when they don’t hit the gas immediately when the arrow turns green.
Lately I have started riding my bicycle to work once a week. And one of the things I love about riding my bike is how much more connected I am to the streets and the people on them. I’m not talking anything profound here – it’s just a few more smiles and head nods and “Good mornings” than when I ride in my car. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I don’t always check the weather before I go. So when a sunny morning sky turns to dark clouds dark at lunch, I gather my file folders and head out the door to make it home before the storm rolls in. But one day last week, the skies opened up when I was halfway home.
Broad Ripple is about the best place in Indy to be when you are on a bicycle and there’s a sudden storm. That’s partly because it’s such a bike friendly community, but mostly because many of the shops have outside awnings – little spaces for anyone to take shelter without having to invade the commercial space where there’s the pressure to buy something. So I stood under a small burgundy awning for about twenty minutes while the storm cleared.
While I waited, the store owner, a middle-aged man with a slight remnant of an Indian accent, came out to join me. It was a designer fabric store, one that didn’t see a lot of traffic, especially during the rain as the small downspout from the gutter system emptied directly over the door to his shop. We talked about nothing important, and we laughed about his gutter system.
I never got his name nor did I purchase any designer fabrics. There is no fairy tale or grand adventure that emerged that rainy afternoon – only a soft reminder of the humanity in every one of the faces that I am so disconnected from when I pass by in my vehicle.
As I pedaled away with the dirty water from the road spitting up against the backs of my legs, I got to thinking about all the meetings that happened in the Bible because people found themselves in places where their worlds collided with someone else’s. How would the frail old lady with the bleeding condition have touched Jesus if she were walking down an extra-wide aisle at Meijer instead of brushing past sweaty, dirty market-goers? How would short little Zacchaeus have met Jesus if he were driving around looking for the best parking spot instead of climbing a tree? Would the shepherds have noticed the new star if they had been driving their sheep to a new pasture in a livestock trailer?
And I found myself wishing that my life had more room for sudden thunderstorms and rainy day awnings. And I found myself reminded of the humanity all around me that lies just outside my bubble. And then I whispered a quiet prayer to God for more beautiful inconveniences.
“From one man, He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:26-28
What are some times or spaces in your day where you can heighten your awareness of others around you and welcome beautiful inconveniences?
What keeps you from seeing unexpected detours in your day as opportunities to see God in people and situations?
Post by Monica Tatera (CG Midtown).