Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Snapshots From My Journey - #1 The Jogger


The reflection pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial is empty and under construction.

This was all I could think about as we began walking towards all the monuments and memorials near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

I know.  It's petty. 

But in past visits, the reflecting pool was always one of  my favorite parts.  Something so large and calm and serene in the middle of all the hustle and bustle is just so inspiring to me!  And it's smack dab in the middle of such history memorialized:  Abraham Lincoln's presidency, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most famous speech, and several of our country's staggering wars including WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

If you've never had the privilege of going to our nation's capital, I highly recommend it.  I am doubly blessed both for having extended family that grew up there, which gave us an excuse to come visit on occasion, and for having parents that surely would have seen to it we'd have gotten there, family visit or not. 

I also had the privilege of earning a scholarship my senior year of high school for a week-long tour of the capital and its surroundings.  That particular visit is the one that is still most freshly ingrained in my memory... which is why it surprised me so much to realize that I took that trip 21 years ago!  Like so many things, much has changed in that amount of time, but much is the same, too.

I'm busy gathering pictures to post on my Facebook page of the things we saw and did during our trip, but all I can think about is what I want to capture here, in this blog.  The things no photos or videos captured, but that were significant and telling all the same.  These are "snapshots" I only know how to capture in words (and even then perhaps not well), but I am learning that these snapshots-- these slices of life-- are often the very food for my spiritual journey. 

So, I will take the next few days and to attempt to "show" you what I saw/learned/discerned along my trip. 

Snapshot #1:  The Jogger

As we were strolling under the trees along the paved road towards the Lincoln Memorial (diverted from the usual means of getting there due to the above stated construction of the reflecting pool), there were several runners jogging on a dirt trail next to our path.  Much to our surprise a woman (probably ten years older than me but clearly-- since she was jogging-- more fit) tripped and went flying through the air landing with a thud on the dirt path beneath her. 

"Are you all right?" I gasped rushing to help her up.

She was understandably embarrassed and a bit confused, floundering to justify and explain the reason for her fall (we very quickly found the culprit, a poorly-placed metal post cut off near the surface of the ground, but still tall enough for someone to catch her toe and trip).  Not knowing what I could offer her, but thinking of my kids and what I would do for them, I blurted, "Would you like some wet wipes?" 

She hesitated, and started to turn me down, then eyeing the dirt on her shins, forearms and knees (and no doubt realizing she still had to finish her run) she changed her mind and smiled sheepishly asking, "Would you mind?"

"Not at all!" I said whipping them out of my bag and pulling them out of the packet one by one, feeding each of them to her as she got herself cleaned up.  She laughed as she cleaned up, visibly more relaxed now, and shared how it seemed the older she gets the clutzier she gets, too.  I smiled and nodded.  She thanked me profusely, but now was left with a wad of dirty wipes in her hand and no where to throw them. 

"Here," I said, showing her the pocket on the outside of my bag already carrying the kids' gum wrappers and a wadded up Kleenex.  "I can take your trash."

The woman sighed, relieved, and thanked me again about a thousand times.  I told her it really was no big deal and wondered if there was anything more I could do.  

No, she said, she was fine. 

Then she jogged away.

I'm not sure that image would have stayed with me so much if it weren't for the fact that that night, as I sat with my family at dinner, my husband reflected, "God was sure smiling on that lady in the park today.  What do you think the odds were of her tripping and falling in front of a mom with wipes who could help her get cleaned up and carry away the trash?" 

And I wondered. 

I'll admit that for a moment there I felt pretty good.  I still do.  It was a good thing to do!  But... let's be honest, most moms carry wipes, and by nature most moms are pretty helpful.  There are plenty of us around, so I really didn't think that was such a big deal.  I mean, of course, my journey right now is about self love so sure my heart is smiling that in that moment, I helped and did good.  But it's not exactly ticker tape parade worthy or anything.  (Still,  maybe it will get me out of purgatory a second or two sooner when my time comes). 

But talking about my good deed isn't exactly what stuck with me from that incident.

What I DO marvel at, is the change of heart the woman had to let me help at all.  I really wonder if the roles were reversed, if I wouldn't have just jogged away muddy (and bleeding) or at the very least I would have insisted on carrying my own trash!  I wouldn't doubt that I would have let my own pride win out and (as I see reflected in my own children), insisted that I DO IT MYSELF.  

But sometimes I can't. 

And sometimes I shouldn't.

I know I felt better for being able to help her.    But I don't think that makes me special.  I think most people would have been happy to have helped her.

But no one would have had the chance to if she didn't allow it. 

And there's that Super Power again. 

Always the opportunity to say NO. 

I'm realizing now it takes a certain amount of courage and a great deal of God's grace to say YES-- not just in trying something new or going down a new path, as I'd always seen it before--but also in letting others help you along the way. 

Because sometimes, to deny others the ability to help, may very well be denying them a happiness they richly need.


  1. I didn't read this until now (Thursday) but thank you for this post! I need this "reminder" most days! I try to do it all. All by myself, that is. And I need to remember that it IS ok to ask for help or to take someone up on an offer to help! And if I do that, it doesn't mean that I am failing or that I am less of a person if I need a little extra help one day.
    Thank you for the reminder...

  2. You are so right, Angie! It's funny, as I write these I often wonder if people are just going to think I'm crazy for the way I see things, but then I read recently that "Mother" is one of the most difficult titles to live up to, so I hoped it would ring true with some. And I think we do it to ourselves (insist on living up to some invisible "standard"). And sadly, sometimes...we do it to each other, too. The funny thing is, when someone asks me for help, I'm almost always happy to do so...and I don't think less of the person, I think about how glad I am they asked for help! But somehow when it comes to MY needing to ask, I do think I've failed somehow. So, I guess it's a good reminder for me, too! :) At any rate, I'm glad this one resonated with you! And thanks SO much for reading!