So there I stood in the parish parking lot. Dumbfounded, hands on my hips, muttering a few choice words that shan’t be shared here. I had locked my keys AND THE BABY inside the car. This wasn't supposed to happen. Literally. While shopping for cars several years ago, the salesman sold me on this particular vehicle when he said it wasn't possible to lock the keys inside the car. Some magic chip embedded in the key fob was supposed to make it impossible.
So much for impossible. It was very possible, and it happened on my watch. I'll deal with the dealership in due time, but let's get on to the business at hand. How to get my baby out of the car? Can't call my husband as my cell phone is imprisoned with the baby. So I run into church, find a friend, and frantically tell her what happened. She loans me her cell phone. Can't call my husband because I don't have his number memorized. 9-1-1 it is.
The conversation with the dispatcher was not easy. Felt like pulling teeth just to get an officer called out to my location. And before disconnecting, the dispatcher said, "And you do know you'll be responsible for the bill, correct?" Whatever. Just. get. here!
Minutes and minutes go by. The baby's cries become stronger. I start pacing. Then God must have slapped me on the head because I thought, "Hey, might be good to pray." I'm on a spiritual journey with St. Josemaria Escriva this year. My birthday falls on his feast day, and I've been walking with him in a particularly intimate way. Josemaria preached that all of us, by God's grace, can achieve holiness through our ordinary life and work. So I ask Josemaria to help me find holiness in this crazy moment, too.
A police officer finally arrives. He gets out of his squad car, makes a lap around my car, peers inside and looks over the screaming baby. "At least it's not hot." Then he starts to initiate idle chitchat. I stop him and ask if he’s going to get my baby out.
"We contract it out. A locksmith from the east side of town was called. He's on his way"
Time for more idle chitchat. Great. Not the good kind of great, but the sarcastic kind of great. So the police officer starts talking about the weather, how fast summer flew by, the beautiful fall colors. Here’s where I begin to straddle the rudeness line. How far can I push it before needing to visit the confessional? Our conversation turned toward religion. Then parenting. With his guard now down, the officer shared about his divorce and current struggles he's having with his tween-aged daughter.
And that's when it hit me. The Holy Spirit was asking me, by way of my stupid mistake, to be present to this man who was placed along my path. He's broken and bruised yet madly trying to be a good father. I can do better. I must do better.
So I stopped pretending to listen and started to really listen. I whispered a prayer for the Holy Spirit to give me words. I shared some stories about my teenage years and how my father was instrumental keeping me on the straight and narrow. I gave the police officer some names and resources that might be helpful to his family. He wrote them down, and I pray he has since explored them. But that's all God’s to sort out now.
The locksmith finally came and within seconds opened up my vehicle. I immediately reached for my baby, and his cries quickly ceased. He was no worse for the wear. As I reached for my wallet to pay the locksmith, the police officer said, "We have an account to pay for things like this." I'm not really sure they do. Either way, God bless him. Then we all went about our respective ways.
I often pray for that police officer. I ask the Lord to dole out an abundance of grace to him. He so badly wants to be a strong father, the father his daughter deserves and needs. And I also ask Josemaria Escriva to particularly help that man find holiness in the midst of divorce and single parenthood.
As for me?
“Selfish. Always looking after yourself. You seem incapable of feeling the fraternity of Christ. In those around you, you do not see brothers: you see stepping stones. I can foresee your complete failure. And when you have fallen you will want others to treat you with the charity you are not willing to show towards them.” St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 31.
Next time may I be quicker to view my fellow brother as a Christian in need and not a mere stepping stone.
Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Copyright 2012 Lisa Schmidt
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