Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Choice



Spring in Minnesota can be an enigma:
unseasonably warm and balmy one
day, snowflakes and bone-chilling
air the next.

As Forest Gump so famously said,
You never know what you're
gonna get.

Hurrying into cycling class on one
of the chilly days, hugging my
arms around my down vest, I spied
an old man in the parking lot,
coming towards me at a brisk pace,
aided by his cane.

Wearing a khaki jacket, blue slacks, 
sturdy orthopedic-type shoes, and a
baseball cap, this bespeckled man 
called out to me,

Do you know where there's a bar 
around here?  The liquor store is 
closed, he added, head nodding across
the lot at said establishment.

It was 7:45 in the morning.

Sorry, I don't, I responded, moving
quickly towards the spin studio.

He asked two more of my classmates 
the same question as they headed in
behind me towards the warmth of
the building.

One man simply dismissed the old man
with a curt, No.  

Inside, as we were shedding jackets
and putting on our bike shoes, I heard
this man say to a woman, Could you
believe that guy?  She nodded in
agreement.  He doesn't need a bar,
he needs a detox center, she added.

As I stepped outside after class, I
spotted the old man again, waiting
patiently for the liquor store to open.

Instead of the disdain my classmates
felt towards him, I just felt sad.

He wasn't derelict, as evidenced by
his neat attire, and he'd walked there,
since my car was the first to pull into
the parking lot.  His gait was steady
and he didn't slur his words.  And, he 
wasn't from the area, or he wouldn't
need to ask about the local 
watering holes.

I weighed all this as I unlocked my
car and saw the man sitting on a bench
adjacent to the store, cane by his side.

But instead of contempt or judgement,
I chose to send him a blessing.

Perhaps he was staying with a relative
in the apartment building next to
this strip mall.  Maybe he was visiting
for a funeral.  Or, he might be a recent
widower, who relocated to be near
family.....Maybe a war vet who'd been
up during the night with bad dreams.

A person looking for comfort, courage
or something else.

Glancing over as I pulled away from
the curb, it occurred to me that this old
soul had once been someone's baby boy.

I hoped he'd been, and still was, 
loved by someone.



It's impossible to know the stories 
behind the many faces we see each day,
traveling this life with us.

But it's entirely possible to meet
them with compassion, instead of 
judgement, if we make the choice.


Would you?


xo
Suzanne



{Both images my own.}










14 comments:

Tricia said...

Not knowing what this man's situation was, I love how you don't automatically jump to a negative conclusion, but instead chose to focus on alternative scenarios. I often imagine others as a child too! It helps me to see them in a different light…for the moment anyway ;)

Wasn't absolutely glorious outside today? xo

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Beautiful, Suzanne. I believe in Judge not, lest ye be judged...and that you really never know what is going on in a person's life unless you've walked in their shoes. I am trying hard to give people the benefit of a doubt, rather than jumping to conclusions or anger. I find I have a lot less stress in life when I am able to live and let live. Your post touched me, sweet friend...xo

Anonymous said...

Such heartfelt words, Suzanne! As I was reading about your early encounter with this stranger, one thought immediately came to mind. I wondered if he might be a veteran, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. So many of our veterans suffer as a result of their service to our country. Hope that he found help in a positive way that day. Your kind heart shows in all that you write and the choices you make, Suzanne! So glad we are blog friends! ♡Dawn Y.

Low Tide High Style said...

I hope I have always been compassionate throughout my life, but the older I get, and the more I have experienced, the less judgemental I am. Your post is lovely and shows your true, kind character! I think it's much easier to judge than to show compassion, and I think people judge because by doing so they think it will keep them from ever becoming that which they are so quick to judge.

xo Kat

Low Tide High Style said...

I hope I have always been compassionate throughout my life, but the older I get, and the more I have experienced, the less judgemental I am. Your post is lovely and shows your true, kind character! I think it's much easier to judge than to show compassion, and I think people judge because by doing so they think it will keep them from ever becoming that which they are so quick to judge.

xo Kat

Lisa Ancona-Roach said...

My heart is so in tune with you on this. Though I am by far not anywhere close to perfect, I can't help but wonder what people's stories are that lead them to a place that is such an easy "target" to judge. What if he DID need detox?? My heart still hurts for him. Too many logs being overlooked for specks...

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

I just read the verse this morning about taking the beam out of my own eye, before taking the speck out of someone else's eye. It was convicting to me.

Fondly,
Glenda

Rambling Tart said...

XO I try so hard to see others with compassion. Sometimes it's taken me into situations where I was bamboozled and hurt deeply, but mostly it's resulted in deeper compassion and connecting with truly lovely souls. To me, it's worth the risk.

Just a little something from Judy said...

You are exactly right! I like your heart, and the way you think. I love this post! What inspiration you shared with me! Thank you! One of my very favorite posts!

Jeanie said...

No words are more true than those you've shared here. We never know when we can save a life by simply being kind and compassionate. Or by giving dignity through compassion. We never know the full story or rarely do. You are wise, indeed.

Teacup Mosaics said...

Yes a gentle reminder not to judge, thank you. I enjoyed my nice visit it has been too long. While you are in the Minnesota I am Florida where I am surrounded by the elderly, I have to remind myself often to be patient, as (hopefully) I will be in their shoes someday.
Enjoy!
Kelley

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Happy belated Mother's day to you! I hope that you were able to spend it with your beautiful children!

Cheryl Lawson said...

A beautiful post...made my day. Thank you!
Cheryl at 22 Applegate Lane

Dianna said...

Suzanne, one thing I so appreciate about stopping by your place is how you always make me stop and think. One day I will share privately with you why I would have made the choice to not be judgmental of this man. Thank you so much for sharing about this man...and your choice to not judge him, but rather to consider his lot in life. xo Dianna