Friday, November 30, 2007
This post is dedicated to Church Lady.
On Wednesday, when I did my remembrance post for Margaret Roberts, Church Lady commented, "Your spirit is particularly well-tuned today. What will you do?" The question threw me for a little bit of a loop. Old timers here at the Clarity of Night have probably gleaned an undercurrent about me that although I very much like to see the poetry and beauty in things, I tend to value logic and scientific thought highest of all. I also tend not to look for powers in the universe higher than us. I prefer to hold ourselves responsible for every element and every action that makes up the world.
I'm open-minded about "signs" and higher meaning in events, but I'm highly skeptical. For example, are particular people destined to suffer, or are they the product of their own choices? Are successful people blessed, or are they being rewarded for their positive decisions?
When Church Lady challenged me to direct my spiritual energy, I really couldn't come up with an adequate response. I simply promised to listen. Maybe it just took a extra day for fate to speak. Here's what happened.
I purposefully keep my professional identity and writing/creative identity separate, but this time I'll give you a glimpse. I represent a boarding school for disadvantaged children. After a meeting yesterday, I called a cab to take me back to my center city office. When I got into the backseat of the car, the driver asked me a few questions about the institution. As we drove around the loop to the front gate, I started to answer. A couple of blocks later, I realized these weren't casual questions.
Here was a man in great pain, a man who just happened to be called by the dispatcher to pick me up at the place that was eating away at him.
He passed pictures of his children back through the divider. He told me about how it broke his heart that the mother, who has primary custody, sent them away to live at this particular boarding school because she couldn't "handle them" anymore. He saw himself as a responsible man and father and was very hurt that not only were his children not living at home, but their admission to the school was partially based on lies about his lack of support as a parent. Because of these feelings, he resisted learning anything about the school. He viewed it as an adversary.
After he shared all this with me, he looked at me in the rearview mirror. He waited to see what I would say.
So I told him the truth.
I said I understood how he felt about the mother's personal struggles and about how he ached to see his children at a boarding school. But I also explained what an amazing opportunity it was. Public education in the city leaves much to be desired, and his children were receiving a nationally-recognized education that would make a tremendous difference in their lives. The excitement and dedication at that institution is truly remarkable.
Most importantly, I told him he would be welcome there.
All I did was call for a taxi. What I got was the privilege to lighten a man's burden. Now he can see a gift where he saw only insult and resentment.
At the end of the ride, he thanked me. I told him that even though he cringed at the call, it was a good thing he came to pick me up. He said there are no such things as coincidences. Szelsofa made that point also in comments, and Kaycie used those exact words.
Are these things merely coincidences? Maybe not.
Or maybe I simply chose to help someone when I could have wrapped myself in my own problems.
Either way, I'm happy to have played my part.