Today was our second, official, real school day for this school year. I don’t know how, but I am now the home school mom of a freshman, a 7th grader, a 5th grader and a 3rd grader. What in the world…Thankfully, I am surrounded by some fantastic people who are so much better at this gig than I am and they are always helping me do better. It is certainly an adventure. And it takes up about 90% of my brain activity each day.
There are binders with schedules all over my house. Textbooks here and there. Half-finished papers drip off the printer. There are broken pencils and crayons in endless supply. There are questions, directions, more questions, more directions, tears, triumphs, fits (and not just the kids). Sometimes there are bad words flying through my head a mile a minute. Other times there are happy tears when there are less wrong math problems than right and a paragraph beautifully crafted without help. There are talks. Lots of talks – about character, about choices, about life, about God, about friends, about enemies, about hormones, about…. you name it. My brain isn’t getting any younger – that is for sure.
There is also a lot of running. Running to co-ops, other classes we share, field trips, art class, dance class, soccer practice, youth group. My van and I spend a lot of time together. Today was no different. My oldest had a thing at 11:00. So I dropped him off, went back home to cram in botany lab stuff with my other three and then ran back out to stop at the store for 4 gallons of milk and heavy cream for a thing I was baking. Now, you must understand, when I am in the car alone I do 2 things – scroll for the best ballad to belt along with and think through the checklists for the day, the next day and so on. I get really distracted trying to “make it all happen.” When I got out of my van today and walked to the store doors, I almost missed it. Well, actually, I almost missed him. It took me almost tripping over this young man sitting on the sidewalk to notice there was even someone there. He was dirty and had a back pack and the usual cardboard sign…homeless. In all my haste and business I almost didn’t see him – literally. And then I said the dumbest thing. “How’s it going?” Seriously? I mean, really? How’s it going? Oh my word…
“I’m lucky to be alive today.”
Six words. Six words that I heard as I kept walking through the automatic doors that just cut through all the crap. Do you ever have those moments when life priorities become abundantly clear? Yeah, me too. Do you know how important my carpooling, list making, gallons of milk getting were in that moment? Not important at all. So instead of getting my 4 gallons of milk, I got one. And then I also bought 2 apples, 2 bananas, 2 bottles of water and a huge thing of trail mix. I have no idea why – its just what I thought to grab in the moment. Those went into a bag and on my way out, I gently set it down next to the young man. The usual things were said – thank you, god bless you, have a good day…I choked out a small, “You are so welcome.”
That young man has been on my mind all day today. No idea who he is, what his name is, what his story is. And I wish I did know. I wish I was braver, slower, more open to stopping and sitting next to someone, more open to looking foolish to others. But, I’m not. Not yet at least. I was reminded today how easy it is to get wrapped up in the things of this world and miss opportunities to serve others, love others, acknowledge others. We make it so much harder than it needs to be. A kind word here, a smile there, looking someone in the eyes, a small gift of time.
Jesus always had time for others. No matter their situation. My prayer is I will be more and more like Him. At the very least, Lord let me see someone before I trip over them next time. Mercy.