9.06.2013

Hurry Up Offense

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After two days of having to share my office with Aaron and Jada (with attendant decline in productivity), I was raring to get into the office early the next day to get a jump on tasks, meetings, and paperwork.  Not one block from my house, and with a bounce still in my step from the rare time out of the house without having to drop off my kids or have them tag along with me to work, I witnessed the following:

Bus, parked, unloading kids.  Stop sign extended.  Car whizzes by.  Stop sign knocked clear off the bus.

I didn’t see the actual impact.  Rather, I was looking somewhere else, but my attention snapped back to the bus when I heard the crunch of speeding car on stop sign.  With the stop sign crumpled on the road next to the bus, plus a car racing down the street at high speed, it was clear what had just gone down.

As I crossed the street, my first thought was to be thankful that no kids were hurt: they were either still on the bus or getting off on the side of the bus opposite the oncoming traffic.  My second thought was that whoever did this was being really reckless.  My third thought was that I wish I could’ve gotten their license plate.

But my overall thought, before, during, and after all these thoughts, was that I had to cross the street and get a move on so I could catch my bus and get myself into the office.  It is my thought most every morning, even when I have two kids in tow, and especially on the rare day I don’t.

It occurred to me, well after my initial thoughts, that I was similarly hurried in my morning commute as the driver who I had angry thoughts towards.  If I wasn’t in a rush, I would’ve run down the street and tried to get as good of a look as possible at the license plate, and then called it in, and then waited around to serve as a witness.  I might have even checked on the bus driver and the kids.

These all seem like commendable things to do, the kind of things I would like to say I would do and do with gladness, because they are decent humanly things to do.  I’d like to think I would do them if I had the time.  But I am realizing that I am almost never in the frame of mind to think that I have time to do things that come crashing unexpectedly into my day.

Yesterday morning, I certainly did not think I had time to slow down and be of help.  In that sense, I was of the same frame of mind as the offending driver: I have to get to where I have to get, and to heck with anything that might slow me down along the way.

There is a famous example (which I could look up and link to but I am lazy) about seminary students asked to prepare a sermon about the Good Samaritan, and then an injured person is placed in their path between where they are preparing the sermon and where they are to give the sermon, and almost no one stops to help the injured person.  Even worse, the rate of helping declines precipitously when the student is told he or she is running late for the sermon.

The story of the Good Samaritan, if you don’t know, is about a Samaritan (considered “half-breeds” by the Jewish audience to this story) who stops to help an injured traveler, going out of his way to make sure he is OK.  Before the Samaritan helps, a priest and a scholar walk right past, apparently too important or busy to do the right thing by the injured person.

I am ever challenged by this story, because I almost always feel too important or busy to do right by someone whose need comes crashing into my day.  Yesterday morning, that was literal.

“Lord, prepare me to be ready when something comes up that I did not expect, and I can be a Good Samaritan to someone who needs help.  You know I need your intervention to get me to that place; it is certainly not a place I am able to get to or even want to get to on my own.  Amen.”
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