Thursday, April 22, 2010

Giving it her all

Today I jogged 3.5 miles, and while I was running the loops at Pecan Park (my favorite place to jog), I noticed a woman with a walker. She and her husband very slowly got out of their truck and headed to the paved walking path. They were just getting on as I was running by. I know that frail older people probably worry about being jostled by people like me, and I tried to stay far out of her way, even as she tried to stay far out of mine.

As I continued running around, I noticed their progress. She made it maybe 1/6 of the way around the larger loop, moving quite slowly, and then she rested for a while. I saw them heading, slowly, back toward their truck. I had the wish to talk to them and say something encouraging. I have these urges and always hesitate to act out of self-consciousness, but I think that I should act when it is a good intention.

I thought about it throughout my next go-round and decided to stop when I caught up to them again. So I did, and told the lady she was brave to come out and try walking at Pecan Park. She beamed and told me a little of her story. She was told by a doctor a few years ago that she only had a few months left to live, that her body was shutting down. She said that somehow, it didn't happen, probably because of the prayers of many people. I agreed that prayer is very powerful. She said the doctors had never been able to figure out why she had such difficulty walking, and that she would get tired so easily. I told her to keep trying and introduced myself to her and her husband. Her name was Frances.

It occurred to me after they left that my effort was so puny in comparison to hers. She was giving everything she had, every ounce of her strength, whereas I was just thudding around the track, almost to pass the time. It reminded me of the passage where the poor widow offers a copper coin to the collection, a very small amount, and Jesus notices and remarks that this woman has given everything she had. I think it makes more sense if you don't think of it in terms of her money, but her life.(Widows, in those days, were supposed to be cared for by their family and the community.)

Talk about an inspiration! I was inspired by this woman walking so slowly with a walker to be diligent about running, and I felt really blessed that she shared some of herself with me. So many people are just waiting for someone to come along and be receptive, and listen to what they have to say.

I said I would pray for her.

A little later, Austin and I were arguing about "forcing" others to put their seatbelts on. (He's turning 16 this summer.) I said it's very simple. You tell them to buckle up, or you won't drive them anywhere. But he was being stubborn. I said, if you care about someone, you get them to buckle up. He asked if I cared about this kid who I drove to Sonic yesterday, who I thought at first was a friend of Austin's, but offered him a ride anyhow. So, pretty much a perfect stranger, in 10th grade like Austin. I said yes, I cared about him, and everyone else for that matter. Is there anyone you don't care about? I asked.

It came down to the fact that my kids were mortified, because I gave this strange kid a 2-minute ride (he accepted), when I had Andrew in the car but not Austin. Then I sort of lectured him: you know, of course, that you should never get in the car with a stranger -- at least call your parents to let them know what you are about to do! Then I told him to buckle up. The shame of it all. 

So, I should tell Austin to add a little humor when telling his friends to buckle up. If they haven't, he can look over at them and say, oh, I can see you obviously don't know the way I drive or you would buckle up!

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