It was awkward, driving with tear-filled eyes and overwhelmed by my thoughts about a current crisis in my family. The recurring illness of one of my family members was taking its toll. Nonetheless, a woman caught my eye—or was it her passenger?
I saw him reclining, relatively motionless, in the front seat of the car. He was handsome, thirty-something; she attractive, together-looking —I’m guessing it was his mother. Easing into traffic, I snapped a mental picture, even though my mind was still preoccupied with my problem. Her gray hair and powder blue sweater gave an added maternal softness to her already gentle, smiling face.
She seemed to be talking to him; his face was quizzically turned toward her, ever so slightly. He appeared to be trying to comprehend what she was saying, or perhaps who she even was. Quite suddenly, I found myself stepping out of the depths of my own anguish, and feeling hers. I have worked and cared for mentally handicapped persons and the association was, truly, not only one of sadness but also the prevailing feeling I related to at that moment.
Spend a few hours, or a day, with a person – loving every precious moment and looking forward to the next time together. Surely, the bond will be built on this ever increasing knowledge of each other. The joy will be greater, the relationship will grow. We do that with new born babies, neighbors, friends, lovers and pets. Now, imagine that mother building a relationship with her son, over and over, on a daily basis. Perhaps he looks upon her face today wondering who she is, not realizing that this was the face he learned to love yesterday (or ten minutes ago).
You see, maybe he can’t remember. And maybe, just maybe, every day, Mom secures her heart, ready to put a lifetime of love into one day, one moment of awareness, because tomorrow, well, who knows. Through it all, she smiled! She looked at peace! Gracious, how does she do it? In thirty-some years, how many tears has she cried? Surely, there were the joy-filled ones at his birth. And, today, did she cry, or blame herself for the hopelessness of his condition?
And yet, I observed joy and peace on her face. Could it be that she has come to the realization that every day is a new beginning? That every day brings new discoveries? Think back… take a moment and remember the first time your own child said “mama’ or “papa.” Today, would you trade the joy you felt that very moments when your child knew she was yours? Or the first time he looked at you with that special child-parent bonding? Have any victories since been sweeter? Different, yes. Sweeter? Close your eyes and think about it.
You know, every now and then, life freezes a vignette in time from which we can learn; to catch angels flitting about, tapping us on the shoulder, showing the loving finger of God pointing toward a lesson. I’m not quite sure I heard flapping, and certainly saw no parting of the veil by a holy hand yet, in my mind’s eye, I did. In that brief breath of time I saw her story, your story, my story; the human drama in which my family’s time onstage is but a cameo appearance.
In that heartbeat of time, I was able to step away from “The Problem” and gain perspective – to acknowledge the positive moments within my situation and to invite happiness back in. I decided that I prefer peace to turmoil, joy to sorrow, contentment to frustration, and of course, an openness to love. It was only one moment in time. I never saw them again. Were they real? Don’t know. Doesn’t matter. The lesson was. I arrived home with a smile on my face and genuine joy and peace in my heart. The situation there hadn’t changed one iota… the change was within me. I realized that life truly is good, if we will but look for the good in every day. It’s there. Look for it. Listen! Are those beating wings I hear? Angels truly are never far away.