Woman in the Yellow Shirt
February 2, 2017I saw you today in the Orlando Airport. You were holding back tears as you talked to someone to the phone. You had a yellow shirt and a yellow legal pad and you wept as you wrote. I thought about walking over to you and saying to you, “I am a Methodist Pastor, can I sit with you for a moment and hear what is going on in your life?” Then my inner voice spoke to me, or maybe it was God. Lib, you don’t need to know what is going on in her life. I know what is going on that makes her so sad. All you need to do is hold her in your prayer and mind. I have this, God said. What is it in my own ego that needs to take the work that is God’s to do into my own hands as if I am the Savior? Had I gone over, she would have been singled out, perhaps felt like she was a spectacle. And I would have intruded and inserted myself into some kind of pain that God already knew about, something that only God could heal. My prayer, my holding this stranger in my heart was what I needed to do. I was amazingly restrained not showing my piety and healing powers to the whole people gathered at Gate 127. Scripture teaches, “Beware of practicing your piety before others…” Forgive me, God, for needing to practice piety, and garner praise for whatever compassion I display. Create in me a heart that trusts you to do the work of healing and holding this woman in the yellow shirt in whatever loss that envelopes her this night. All I have to do is pay attention to the hurt and lift the pain to your care, which is far beyond anything I can do or say. Only You heal; only you bring true comfort and peace. Grant me discernment to enter a situation when I know I am called to it, and to stay on the second row in quiet prayer when a disturbance or embarrassment would call more attention to me than to You or to the hurt at hand. When we exited the plane in Raleigh this afternoon, the stewardess said to the woman in the yellow shirt, “Have a good day.” The woman replied, “I am going to try to do just that.” Encounters that change us, that give us a glimpse of the sacredness of life, and the ways we travel together in this muddle of goodness and loss, these encounters are not always kum ba yah, person to person conversations. Sometimes these encounters are on a plane of unknowing, a place of recognizing the Divine between two total strangers who shared space and the human condition created and called good even when no credit is ascribed, except to God. Whatever loss you have met today, Dear Lady in the Yellow Shirt, I pray peace for you this night and rest knowing you are not alone, but held by a communion you don’t even know. Amen.