CORONA JOURNAL: DAY #200
October 8, 2020
A GOD THING
I refer to what occurred this evening as a “God Thing”. A God Thing is when a seemingly random event occurs at the right place, the right time, and for the right people. That is what happened this evening. A God Thing.
I wanted a Buster Bar. Not just any ice cream bar. A Buster Bar: That wonderful Dairy Queen creation with vanilla ice cream with strips of fudge, peanuts, and a chocolate fudge coating. I have developed some interesting culinary preferences during this unusual COVID era. I have also decided that some television shows simply cannot be watched without buttered popcorn. So, we have ample supplies of microwaveable buttered popcorn in the cupboard now and I try to keep a box of Buster Bars in the freezer (there are 6 to a box). (Just to be totally transparent here, I add more real butter to my already buttered popcorn.) And I have a few more bottles of wine than usual in the cupboard as well.
But anyway, we were out of Buster Bars and I wanted one. We had eaten dinner and I wanted something sweet but when I checked the freezer I realized that I needed to make a Dairy Queen run. Our local Dairy Queen is about a 5-minute drive from our home and I rolled into the parking lot in no time.
As I parked my car I noticed a Ford Bronco or something like it in the parking lot. (If Steve had been with me he could have identified the exact make, model, and year.) I don’t pay that kind of attention to cars, but I couldn’t help but notice that this large vehicle was loaded, well, actually stuffed to the ceiling, with what appeared to be personal items: clothing, boxes, toys, a baby stroller. A small young dark-haired woman was leaning over trying to put shoes on her approximately 10-month old baby, who was sitting on the driver’s seat, his feet dangling in the air.
The mother was dressed in a summer dress and sandals on an evening when I had contemplated grabbing my sweater, and I felt cold for her. I wondered why she would be dressed for summer on a cool fall day. Two other children sat quietly in the back seat and appeared to be somewhere between two and three years old. As I walked towards the Dairy Queen door, I could hear her speaking softly to her baby, and then to the other children. “It’s going to be okay”.
I purchased my box of goodies and as I placed them in the car I could hear her speaking in soft reassuring tones to her children. Something was very wrong, so I walked towards her. “Are you all right?”
She looked up with surprise. (I hate that wearing these masks covers more than our mouth and nose. Could she see the concern on my face?). “We’re okay. We just spent two nights at the Domestic Abuse shelter and are on our way to the Family Shelter in Salem.” She was quite beautiful, with long brown hair sweeping down both shoulders, and she appeared to be adequately nourished but an aura of weariness emanated from her. Her eyes were clear, resolute and it seemed that she held her head a bit higher when I asked her if she felt safe. “Yes, we’ll be safe at the shelter”.
It was obvious that she was simply a young mother alone in the world with three very young children. When I asked if I could give her some money, her eyes welled up with tears and, as I handed her a $20 bill, she said, “Oh thank you! Now I can buy some dinner for my children”. I was struck that she didn’t say “dinner for us”. She said, “dinner for my children”. Her entire focus was providing for the safety and survival of her children today.
As I drove away I wondered if I should, could, have done more. And tears streamed down my face as I made my way home. I thought of what Fred Rogers said about looking “for the helpers”. And I knew I had helped. But there was so much more this young mother needed.
I suppose this whole experience pierces my heart because I am so aware of how thin the line is between safety and danger, success and failure, those who are destitute and those who, like me, have a warm tidy home with a cupboard full of food. And Buster Bars. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to cross that thin line: Job loss, illness, medical bills, disability, domestic abuse. Why is it that I am so blessed while others are less fortunate?
As I drove home with my box of treats I was filled with sadness and gratitude. I am so sad that abused women and their babies must run from danger with their cars loaded down, that they must endure the heartbreak of uncertainty and insecurity. I know that this woman represents the tip of the iceberg. There are so many frightened women and children who are hiding in the shadows. And there are, of course, so many other men, women, and children living in a world of insecurity and destitution.
But I am grateful that there are domestic shelters and services for these women and children. And, yes, I am grateful that our entire family is safe, dry, and well-fed with good jobs and stable environments.
I knew that, in the Bible, there is a quote that says something about if you have a lot, you must give a lot and, it’s been a long time since I memorized scripture but with some help from an old friend I was able to find it: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48, KJV). The basic message is that “If you have a lot, if you are comfortable and without need, you are obligated to give some of what you have to others”.
I am thankful for God Things.
And tonight, I am feeling an obligation to help my fellow human beings. Because “There but for the grace of God go I”.