Glory be! I discovered my copy of Woven Flecks of Thought , which I despaired of ever recovering. “Dangerous Times” in this collection caught my eye.
As a child in my small Oklahoma town, I roamed pretty freely. One day a woman I recognized from church stopped to offer me a ride. I was five. All I could think was I should never accept a ride from anyone. Maybe she was disguised as someone I knew. I refused the ride. She was clearly offended.
I must have passed this on to my daughter. When she was six, I was delayed at work, which meant she needed to be transferred from the after school program to the 24 hour day care operated by the same folks. She expected I would pick her up and this did not seem trustworthy to get in a van to go somewhere else. She fought them as they tried to get her to go in the van.
As a young woman in my 20s, driving from Dallas to Waco on an extremely hot August day, I saw a man, overweight, likely in his 50s, trudging down the road, gas can in hand. His face was beet red and sweating. I went through the entire litany in my head about the danger of offering rides. The image of my mother scolding my father for, once again, having offered rides to servicemen who were hitchhiking from the base in Wichita, when he had been there visiting his father. My higher instinct kicked in and I stopped. He was so relieved. I drove him to the next exit which had a gas station. It seems like I offered to wait and drive him back to his vehicle but as I recall he was calling his brother-in-law from the gas station.
What halcyon days it seems now when the biggest fear was about accepting or offering rides to strangers, the days before 24 hour news cycles reporting bombings of mosques and churches, mass shootings in schools and concerts and city parks and theaters. How do we respond?
Hopefully not by living in fear, which is a “mind-killer….the little-death that brings total obliteration,” wrote Frank Herbert. He continued: “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: “Dangerous Times”
Yesterday, I saw you up ahead
climbing the long hill.
Your left leg buckled as you pushed on
stumbling with the bags you carried.
I know that road; I drive it every day
Old houses leaning under the kudzu vines
Deserted gas station
Bus stop half a mile away.
You stopped to rest on your cane.
I wanted to offer you a ride, but caution won.
These are dangerous times, we understand.
but I drove on. I am safe.
My heart is heavy.
At the red light you stand under the store awning
Rain and wind whip your light coat
You are drenched and shivering.
The light turns green. I want to help you.
I drive slowly on and watch.
You shift your bundles and bow your grey head against the
and fighting your umbrella, cross the street.
I argue with myself.
Life is hard.
What harm can come? Just two women.
I back up, turn around, offer you a ride.
You look at me, smile weakly, shake your head no and walk
These are dangerous times.
Mary Campbell Monroe in Flecks of Thought