Lately my life has taken on a good kind of quiet. This dispensation began over a month ago when, in a tear filled moment in the parking lot of Ninfa's, I said goodbye to the three little people who made my days dance with the soundtrack of vitality. It was in the car driving home that I came to grips with the axiom that everyone else except for me had seemed to master-- Change happens. I'm a good learner, but I'm a slow learner. I grappled with the lesson of change for years, clinging to the words of people from Garrison Keillor to Kathleen Norris, writers who celebrate lives of repetition and extol the virtues of ritual and the expected. But they had become my crutch, an excuse to never look forward.
But now I'm looking forward and backward, and I'm also looking all around me. And I am seeing things again. Things that would have passed me by in my dispensation of grief. Wonderful things. Things that do not get much airplay. Things such as this...
Yesterday as I was driving on Lake Air, approaching Bosque, I noticed an elderly man had fallen on the sidewalk and a group of people were gathered around him. Not knowing if any help had been called, I pulled over into the next parking lot and walked over to see what I could do. A young black man dressed in urban attire (read: bling) was pacing back and forth. I asked him what happened. He said that the man was walking along and fell down, almost into the street. The younger guy was terrified because he had almost hit him. The elderly gentleman, obviously suffering from dementia of some kind, was being tended to by a rather large white lady adorned from head to toe in tatoos and a middle aged hispanic man wearing a uniform and who appeared to be on his way home from work. A cop showed up and took charge of the situation, at which point the rest of us began to walk away, so as to not be a distraction.
As I was walking away I heard the younger guy thank the other two for stopping. He saw what happened and panicked, not knowing what to do. The lady responded that it was know big deal, she just wanted to be a good neighbor.
Now I know this sounds like it is straight out of one of those insurance commercials about how every day people do the right thing and when other people see this they start doing the right thing. Maybe this is true. Who knows? But as I drove away this verse from the Bible somehow popped into my head-- "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear." I'm not sure what that had to do with anything that had just happened other than to cause me to realize how much of our lives are determined by fear. Fear of the future, fear of the past catching up with us, fear of our neighbor and fear of the unknown. It seems as if fear is all around us. It is the main instrument used by both (yes, both) political parties to shore up votes. It lurks around our corners and controls many of our lives.
But for three people yesterday, fear didn't divide, it brought together. And in the middle of this city, with police and ambulance sirens descending on the scene of the event, there was a sense of quiet. I got into my car, closed the door and pulled out of the parking lot on my way home. Over my speakers were the words from a Crowder Band song... "All the love in the world is right here among us, and hatred too...and so we must choose what our hands will do." Silence in the midst of chaos. I thought of the people I have said goodbye to, the people I have recently met from beginning school, and those I love that are still close. And for the first time in a really long time, I was not afraid.