Sunday, April 14, 2024

God’s Grace in the Kindness of Strangers

Several weeks ago, I was asked by our local house treasurer to go to the bank for her since she is one of the individuals among us who could be seriously harmed if she caught COVID-19. So, I said, “Sure!” As I prepared to go out to the “outside” world, I went through a mental check list: “Banking stuff?” Check. “Car keys?” Check. “Hand sanitizer” Check. “Wipes?” Check. Then I got distracted.
Realizing that I was on my lunch hour, I ran out of the house with just the banking items, forgetting the rest of the items on my checklist. Upon arrival at the bank, I parked in the parking lot only to see that the lobby was closed. I thought, “O gee! I guess I will have to go to the drive-through window.”
I drove to the end of the line. To my chagrin, I was number 20 in line. Determined not to add to the air pollution, I turned my car off and waited for the line to move. When it did, I started my car, moved it forward 10 feet and then turned it off. Mind you, my car had not been used for three weeks!
As I approached the window, I realized that there was no hand sanitizer or wipes, and that I had forgotten mine! I anxiously thought, “I have to touch the vacuum tube and the button after all these folks have!” I immediately went into “freak out mode” and began praying, “Jesus I trust in thee!” over and over again.
I watched as the customer before me completed his transaction, blessed myself and then started the car. To my surprise, my battery was now dead! I opened the door of the car and called out, “Can someone push me? My battery is dead!” Two gentlemen got out of their cars and pushed my vehicle of the way of the traffic at the window. I got out of the car, opened up the trunk and the got jumper cables as I called the convent to have one of the Sisters come meet me at the bank. As soon as I got off the phone, one of the bank tellers – gowned, gloved and masked – came out to me. He asked if he could help with the car. I told him that it was just the battery and that I had called the convent to get a jump. He also asked if he could complete my bank transaction for me. I gladly gave him everything I had!
As I was waiting for one of the Sisters to arrive, I opened up my hood. So picture this: A Sister in a habit holding jumper cables with the hood up on her bright red car, holding a cell phone to her ear. Nothing like sending an SOS signal out!
An employee from Neil’s Funeral Home next door went out of his way and turned around to ask me if I needed help. He cautiously kept a 10-foot distance from me. When he got out of his car, I announced, “I could kiss you but I am not going to!” I then related to him that the battery was dead and that another Sister was coming so I could jump it.
By the time the Sister came to my rescue, a dozen or so people had asked me if I needed help! In the midst of all this craziness, people actually went out of their way to help me! As I drove away, I began to growl to my Beloved. He said, “Are you finished yet? Don’t you realize that with your dead battery, I was protecting you from touching the vacuum tube and button?” I felt like Job and said, “Wow! I am going to be quiet! I am just so slow at learning the lesson that you are watching out for me!” I began to cry. God is amazing! He can take the most horrid thing and beautify it! He takes his agony on the cross and, through it, gives us eternal life!
In addition to this story, I also want to share a prose poem written by Kitty O’Meara, a retired teacher from Madison, Wis. The poem is circulating the internet during the pandemic:
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.1
As we find ourselves in the Easter season, rejoicing over the gift of salvation that God has given to us, allow this time to me a moment of grace to deepen your appreciation to what your dearest Lord had given to you – even though it might not seem like that right now! It’s a lesson I truly needed to learn!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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