I have a story to tell.
Last week, after I was finished with my work day, Bree (my girlfriend) asked if I would be interested in an evening stroll together. While I was tired, I agreed, because it was a lovely invitation, and I wanted to spend some dedicated time together. While we walked, I asked her if we could talk about the lectionary for the upcoming Sunday, because I was leading Bible study the next day.
So, we were walking and talking about last week’s long gospel reading, where there are so many characters and so much going on – and we were talking about how even though each of the people in the story are talking to Jesus, none of them are talking to eachother. We were thinking aloud about connection, and people, and how we can get wrapped up in our own stuff. . .
and we walked past a woman who was kneeling down by her car. When we had turned the corner, I said, “Shoot. It looked like her tire was flat”. Bree replied, “What? really? Oh, let’s go back and help her – I know how to change a tire”. At this, I began to backtrack a bit – “Oh, maybe that isn’t what happened, it just looked like her tire was flat maybe, but I don’t know how to fix that”. . . to which my capable girlfriend responded, “I do”.
So, we turned around, walking right back down the street we had just passed. Bree asked if the young woman needed help, and she said yes – and they set to work. I did little else except for feel incredulous as they talked about lug-nuts and car-jacks (things I clearly know nothing about). I helped at one point to take the screw thingies off the old tire, and roll the new one to where their capable hands took over.
As we worked, the woman shared that she had a rough week. One thing after another, she said, without detailing anything. I hoped we offered some solace. When the task was over, we waved goodbye – no fanfare, exchange of numbers, or hugging – the job was over, and we walked on.
But, a week later, I find myself still mulling this story over. Were we compelled to return because we were talking about the gospel? Did we miss her in the first place because we were talking about theology? One thing I do know – if either of us had been alone I don’t think we would’ve turned around. I needed to notice, and Bree needed to offer her skills – and the woman needed to be willing to accept help from strangers.
Kindness – it might be as simple as doing what you can, when you can. Nothing more, and nothing less.