The vanishing lesson.
September 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
We were sitting on a bench eating our ice cream when she came up to us.
“Do you, by any chance, have any change for bus money? I have school tomorrow and I have to get all the way up to Bitter Lake.”
She said it so fast, but in a high schooler way, not a practiced way. I sincerely told her that I didn’t have anything but my phone (which I illustrated by pointing at it) and Kenny told her he just had his card. We were truly sorry. She said that it was okay and thanked us before heading off down the street, a large colorful backpack hanging from her shoulders.
I called after her, “Good luck!” I really meant it.
We each ate another spoonful of our salted caramel and chocolate. Kenny looked at me and said, “Maybe we should offer her a ride.”
“Really?” I asked. Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. I mean, I didn’t know if we could trust her. But leave it to my husband to want to reach a little bit further.
We both looked after her. “Bitter Lake is up by us,” he continued. We kept looking.
I felt the nudge, pictured myself running after her while she still remembered who we were and extending our offer. I even thought I heard God whisper “That’s my daughter.” She was. But I didn’t get up.
It was getting late. Darkness was upon us. Soon, we couldn’t see her anymore. We looked at each other agian. There was an unspoken resignation that this meant it was too late. I ignored the nudge. I ignored the whisper.
We finished our ice cream.
As we got back into the car, Kenny said, “Maybe we should try to find her and offer her a ride.” I agreed in a heartbeat. Yes, we would find her and make this right.
We drove the direction she would have had to go if she were truly going to the bus stop. As we rounded a bend, I spotted the shadow her backpack and ponytail walking down the sidewalk. “There she is!” I exclaimed. But we had to wait through a light and go around the block to circle back to where I had seen her. But she wasn’t there. We drove around a few more blocks in the direction she had been headed. We couldn’t find her.
Literally, it seemed like she vanished. “I swear I saw her, honey,” I told Kenny defensively.
“I know, I’m sure you did. Maybe she’s just a fast walker.”
We drove on further, unfortunately having to navigate one of the busiest, most heinous intersections in Seattle (you know it, people- 45th and Aurora like you’re headed to or coming from Ballard), which only served to annoy me. As we once again sat at a light, I spotted her again, making her way up the stairs to the highway, to the bus stop.
“There she is again!” It was as if she had apparated. We had to wait through another light and go up a small side street to see if she was going to wait at the bus stop. If she was, then she had gotten enough money and could head home. If not, then we’d pursue her further. We saw her talk to the two people waiting, presumably asking them for change. Then she walked away and headed back down the stairs.
Shoot. Now we were stuck on a one-way street and absolutely no way of getting to those stairs without abandoning the car and chasing after her, which would be dangerous and creepy.
We tried watching for where she went before going around the block once more. By the time we made it through the infuriating intersection one more time, we couldn’t find her. Many U-turns and risky traffic moves later, still no sign of her.
She’d vanished again.
We thought about going after her on foot, but didn’t know where to start. It was getting late, already dark, and we couldn’t imagine where she could have gone so quickly.
Was she even real? I wondered.
We had no choice but to start back home. And we prayed. That she would be on the bus, able to get home safe and warm and ready for school the next day. That He would be with her the whole way.
That we hadn’t totally screwed up by ignoring the nudge.
Yes, she is His daughter. No, it wouldn’t have put us out to offer her a ride when she first came up to us. But we didn’t. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even think of it. And when I’d thought about it, I’d found a stupid reason not to go after her.
Who does that anyway? I’d asked myself.
I keep thinking about her. Maybe she was meant to be a lesson. Maybe she got home just fine and God wanted to show us only that we need to move when we feel Him. I don’t even want to think about what if we were just too late, that she ended up with the wrong person. I choose to believe that God was with us, and her, last night.
But I do know this- I regret not acting. I regret not listening. And it happens all too often. I call it “caution,” but I am really just ignoring Him.
And I don’t want to be guilty of ignoring the Lord anymore.
Because then His children vanish.