At three-fifteen I am the first pick-up for the airport shuttle. Fred, the driver, recognizes me from previous airport runs. So Fred and I chat it up a bit.
Yes, I tell him, I now live downtown. No, I haven’t traveled much lately.
We pick up a retired couple. They climb into the middle seats. We all make early morning small talk.
At our final downtown stop we pick up a young woman.
“These condos must be new,” Fred says to her in his friendly way. “How do you like living there?”
“I hate it,” the young woman says. “I hate living downtown.” She pauses. “I’m here only because of a job. I hate this town.”
The mood in the van changes instantly. I had been savoring the delicacy of this hour before dawn, with everything feeling dewy fresh and full of promise. But that delicate space feels shattered now.
“I have two big labs,” she continues. “And there is no place downtown where I can let them run. So I have to walk them in the alley in my block which is usually strewn with needles and trash.”
“Those people just ruin everything.”
The retired couple in the middle seats, and Fred and I up front, we have no words to respond, no way to engage the anger. So we don’t.
Like some harsh and dissonant piano chord, the words hang, decay, then vanish.
I feel the need to not let anger have the final word.
After a while I say, looking out the passenger window, with a tone of quiet wonder, “I love this town.”
I let this sound hang in the air, an inviting chord. I turn toward Fred.
“I’ve lived here since 2000. I love the beauty of this town, the forested buttes, the hills, the natural beauty.”
“I love the people here,” I say, glancing toward the couple in the middle seats. “I love the way so many people are engaged in doing good.”
“You used to do overnight at Egan, as I recall,” says Fred.
“Egan” is shorthand for the overnight warming centers that shelter homeless people on bitter cold nights. They were not around ten years ago when Retired Major Thomas Egan died, homeless and alone, in a snowbank.
“Yes,” I say.
“We do Egan,” the gentleman in the middle seat pipes up. I nearly weep for joy. I am in the company of the blessed. The engaged.
“We work the dinner shift at First Christian,” his wife says.
Suddenly the four of us come alive with conversation.
We pull up to the curb at the airport. I want to get a look at this young woman with two large dogs and a soul unsettled with anger and distress. I want to see her face, and love her. I want her to feel a part of the whole.
We all gather at the rear of the van as Fred unloads our bags. I notice that this sister is wearing a stunning cobalt blue jacket, collar pulled up against a cold wind.
“Nice jacket,” I say, hoping to ease her into a better space.
“Thank you,” she says, with a distant smile.
“Have a good fly day,” I say as I snap my roller bag handle into position.
This feels like the briefest of sacred moments.
What I really want to say to my sister is this: I hope, in your travels today, that you will be utterly and inescapably ambushed by Love. In ways that will deliver you from all that holds you bound. Free to love where you are, wherever that may be.
Interiorly I pray a blessing on her life: I want you to be free!
I cannot say these words to her. She would not be able to receive them.
What I hope for my sister is this: May you love the ones you're with!
(c) Mary Sharon Moore, 2018. All Rights Reserved.
Mary Sharon Moore writes and speaks nationwide on
the nature of God’s calling in our times.