Twas a sunny day…The cars were crawling like snails through the parking lot. There could have been a real chance to take a nap behind them as they navigated the speed bumps in front of me. Worse yet, one of the slow pokes was going to try to turn south from the parking lot driveway that was only about a hundred feet from a massively busy intersection, and against oncoming traffic and a six-lane road to boot.
My quick wit fueled by lack of patience when an accelerator is under my right foot had me scanning for an alternate route. “Bingo!” I thought to myself as I spotted one of the auxiliary parking lot lanes that led south to another minor side street that I could use to get further from the intersection to have a clear shot south against traffic, plus get out from behind the car that might still be there trying to pull out now.
While driving south through the strip mall parking lot – feeling pretty good about my clever move, I noticed the trash cans behind the stores. They’re actually dumpsters and they usually stink to high heaven… especially in the Arizona heat. My busy schedule and attitude ran out of me like the popping of a balloon.
I stopped before entering the side street just like the person I was trying to get around in a rush. I studied the frail tanned man in the floppy hat with his backpack slung over his shoulder as he dug through the dumpster I wouldn’t even drive by with my window down. Funny how priorities can change in the twinkling of an eye. I’ve noticed that it is usually the things that happen around us physically that bring about a change within us.
There are so many people in our world, we have the tendency to overlook the uniqueness of each and every soul they represent. I think many of us, me for sure, tend to see people in that manner and forget that every person alive has a story and each and every one of them has had some sort of heartbreak.
The homeless guy digging through the trash has a story too. Pretty sure he didn’t intend his story to include this chapter of homelessness and living out of trash cans… The people holding up traffic have a different story, better than the guy dumpster diving, but a less than perfect life to be sure.
When we consider strangers with a worldly perspective that sees just another person on an already overcrowded planet, we miss one of the greatest gifts God grants a soul – compassion. The greatest people who’ve ever lived had that divine ingredient. It isn’t the cold calloused people who are remembered with honor, it is the ones who care about all people and consider each soul special. Just like our Father who created their souls before the foundations of the universe.
May our busy schedules and attitudes run out of us like air from a popped balloon as we consider each soul on earth that carries a story of heartbreak and a hope of redemption…