catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 19 :: 2013.10.18 — 2013.10.31


A Pharisee who picks her nose asks for eyes

Recently I’ve been yelling out of my car window more often.  Driving by, I shouted, “I like your garden!” to an elderly woman bent over her petunias.  “Nice cartwheel!” I exclaimed to a construction worker practicing acrobatics in the front yard.  “Almost there!” I said to the runner huffing and puffing his way up a steep hill.  Whether he wanted to punch me in the face is up for debate, but overall, I tend to get a smile from these seemingly random interactions and each one feels like a beautiful gift.  

I know an eight year old who hates driving on highways.  “It feels like I am floating over a land where no one lives,” he said once to his mother.  And sadly, that is the way we like it.  We want to be nomads, islands unto ourselves, picking our noses in peace and blasting our music so we can end the drudgery of commuting as fast as possible.  We relish being detached from others and from the messiness of place.  Who wants to drive through a dilapidated neighborhood with bars on the corner and a depressingly grimy daycare when you can drive over it?  

For Lent last year I gave up highways in order to slow down.  Sometimes it was inconvenient and sometimes it felt anything but edifying, but overall, it was a wonderful experience.  I’ve lived in Cincinnati for 26 years, and because I always used highways, I never really figured out how the neighborhoods were connected.  I never cared, because at the end of the day, driving for me was a waste of precious time.  Slowly I started to notice more and more.  My eyes were opened not only the streets and the businesses, but the people, too.  I would pull off the road to stop at a small consignment shop and have a conversation with the saleswoman or wrestle in prayer for a man begging for money on the side of the road.  

I love the story of the Good Samaritan.  Who doesn’t?  It’s very inspiring, and I like to thank God that I am not like those nasty, heartless Pharisees who pass by the battered man.  But what if those Pharisees had cars that could drive very fast so they could get to Tuesday night Bible study on time?  The battered man at best becomes a blur.  Suddenly the story comes a little closer to home.  It’s true that I did a 40-day fast from highways.  Sometimes I flash a smile at the car next to me at the red light.  I’ve even gone through stints of using my bike.  But I’d be lying if I said that some of my core attitudes are not still firmly in place.  I want to get to where I am going, and I want to do it in my time.

By the grace of God, I hope to break out of my little world on wheels.  I hope to keep shouting at strangers and trying, through the eyes of faith, to see each journey as meaningful unto itself.  What if every time I got into the car, I trusted that God wanted to show me just one thing on the way to my destination?  What if that perspective led me to take slower routes or even stop to ask the woman who looks overwhelmed waiting for the bus how she’s doing?  What if she cusses me out or blows me off, and I don’t get the smile I hope for?  But what if I give her a smidgen of joy on a dark day?

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