One of my grandmother’s used to say this to me when I was growing up: “Be kind, honey. Everyone’s doing the best they can.” Can’t imagine what might have precipitated her comment. Maybe someone was being rude. Or mean. Or angry. I don’t really remember. And it’s funny to me that I don’t remember which grandmother. My money is on my maternal, Midwestern one (as opposed to my paternal, New Englander) but I can’t tell you for sure. What I know is that I have carried those words with me most of my life.
These are important words for me, for us in these days. All you have to say to an Atlantan is “Man, this morning on the perimeter there was this guy that…” and we will all be blowing our collective tops on behalf of the storyteller. It’s common place to lose our reason, our patience, sometimes lose all rhyme and reason in a split second. Somebody cuts us off in traffic. Someone cuts in line at the grocery. Some young (human being) kid whizzes by us on a scooter – and that’s enough to tip the scales. Katie, bar the door…
Is it possible to take a deep breath? Is it possible to not be so invested in…whatever it is that seems to be so “top-blowable?” Is it possible to show lovingkindness in these improbable days?
“Everyone’s doing the best they can.” These are hard and tender days. Both. These are very preciously short and painfully long days. Both. These (for many) are the best of times and the worst of times. Both.
What would it take for us to be intentional about actually seeing one another as we journey on? In these intentional Lenten days as we make our way toward Jerusalem, can see one another as God’s precious child? Sisters and brothers also on the journey? Sisters and brothers making their way through each day, carrying burdens we can’t see? Can we see one another as sisters and brothers making their way in the same way - left foot, then right foot?
Everybody's "best" might not be quite enough. Their "best" might take me 3 minutes longer at the cash register or cause me to lose my stride for just a beat on my walk. It probably would. What would change for this Jerusalem-bound journey that we are on, if instead of saying a few precious words at them, we say a few precious words for them? What if instead of getting in a good word, we speak a prayer on their behalf? Not in a shaking-our-heads, I'm-righteous condemnation, but in a prayer more like "I have no idea what your days are like, but I hope things get easier for you"? Not because we must but because we may. Maybe this is where the `turn the other cheek,' `walk the extra mile' got their starts...