Monday, August 04, 2008

The Spiritual Discipline of Everyday Encounters

I had an interesting encounter this morning. I was driving out from my neighborhood as usual, and came up to a traffic light, which was red. I was attempting to make a right turn on red, when a car drove up behind me. So far, this isn't anything unusual. There were cars driving past, so I waited for an opening. This too isn't unusual.

What made this time unusual, was that the car behind me started beeping their horn at me as I waited. I wondered why, because I couldn't go out into ongoing traffic. There was no gap either. I eventually rolled out, intent on ignoring the folks behind me. And as we drove down, they rolled up next to me on my drivers side as we came to another red light. They were in the left turn lane, while I was waiting to continue on. They stared at me. I actually looked back at them, since I felt no shame, and I was a little angry.

I noticed an old black woman in the passenger's seat, and a black man (couldn't see how old he was) in the driver's seat trying to look at me. I caught myself when the light turned green, and I proceeded through. I began wondering, "What was I trying to achieve?"

For one thing, by staring back I wasn't treating my enemies with kindness instead of retaliation. Usually in these types of situations I just ignore people like this, especially since they act without understanding. And I could've exacerbated the situation by looking back at them. On the other hand, I could've responded with a smile and a wave of friendliness. But I was too angry to think of this. (Who knows, maybe it would have made things worst, instead of cooled things down.)

In any event. I was weak right then. I wanted to tell them off. But I want to please God more. So, I flinched. I did go on, and I know I must leave most of this into God's hands. But, boy, the test shows I have some growing to do.

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