First, the sinking dismay that accompanies preventable, regrettable loss. And second, the joyful bounce of unexpected prayerful return. Kill the fatted calf – my long-lost has returned to me.
All of this amazingness – while driving downtown to my favorite coffee shop for my morning joe. Generally, I prefer to pay homage to the four fundamentals of coffee brewing – freshness, grind, water, proportion – in my own kitchen. But the clock had been hounding me from the moment my eyes caught their first peep of fresh morning light. The alarms had done their jobs of multiple snooze . . . still, I had overslept. I dashed through my morning routine: showering, picking out which pair of shoes would dictate the dress for the day, untangling some knots in my hair born from a fitful dream, walking the dog, feeding the cat, finding my keys.
Rush, rush, rush. I met with every red light through the downtown district on my way to connect with some caffeine. All of those courteous drivers who were yielding to pedestrians not at crosswalks or allowing other drivers to get into the lane ahead of them. I was all but gnashing my teeth while murmuring my own dialect of cussing: toothpicks, trashbucket, rubybum, jesusmaryandjoseph.
I was at my 8th light when I saw a real-world diorama on the northwest corner of Holly and State. There were three people waiting to cross at the light: a woman, a young-ish boy approximately nine years old, and a little redheaded girl dressed in pale pink tights, yellow dress, and black shiny shoes. She was at that enviable age where tears can dry instantly and miracles still have the power to go unnoticed.
Life is all flow at that age. I do remember. So much stuff – the wheat and the chaff – pours into one vessel when you are three years old. Entire lifetimes can occur in a single day – a single action – a single moment. When you are three-years-old, life is in spontaneous mode. Your awareness of control is underdeveloped. You don’t exactly wonder how things are going to get sorted out. They either do. Or they don’t. You might hope for the former, but there is the possibility of the latter inspiring some tears.
Movement caught my eye as I waited for the green. The little ginger was pointing across the street. Her hands pressed to her cheeks. Her mouth a perfect O. There, on the other side of the street was a bright pink hat. The kind of hat you wear to church on Easter Sunday. The woman was holding the hand of the little girl while pulling back on the hood of the boy’s green sweatshirt. A veritable push-me-pull-you in action.
It did not require an advanced course in reading lips or body language to be able to hear their conversation . . . a study in exclamation marks. The woman: An emphatic Stop! You, come closer! Wait! You, be careful! From the boy: Let me go! From the little girl: Hurry!
The light changed to WALK, the woman released her grip on the boy’s hoodie, and the boy made his dash to the other side of the street. Scooped up the ruby pink hat. Loped back. Plopped the hat on his little sister’s head all catawampus. The little girl looking up at her brother: My hero! Her hands adjusting her hat tighter to her head. It was going to be a good day after all.
While watching, I couldn’t help but hope that the light wouldn’t change so I could see the rescue. Vicariously experience the resolve. The driver behind me laid on his horn. His scowl and middle finger in my rearview told me that I hadn’t been paying attention to the light, the traffic, or my hurry. I had been transfixed by the story. Me: the one in the big rush, the one who had been cussing at courteous drivers, the one who had been tailgating law-abiding drivers. Me: holding up traffic while watching something random and amazing.
The colors: the blue sky; the red hair and pink hat and new pale-pink tights; the baggy green hoodie and crayon-purple stocking hat. The rescue: the heroes in this life. The miracle: the joyful reunion. The lesson: life does provide the chariot to our wishes. The reminder: Hold loosely but hope for the best. The hope for the return of some things in life is worth wishing for. The magic: Just believe. Life is good. One never knows when a miracle is about to happen. They happen every single day. For this, I feel an immense and abiding abundance of gratitude.