Thursday, February 10, 2011

pain in the rear view mirror

So, I noticed Bern's truck had a very low tire and drove it down to the Mobil station to fill it up.

No sooner had I hit Rt. 10 than I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw a beautiful young woman in the passenger seat of the car behind me crying.

She wasn't sobbing or anything, simply wiping tears from her large, lovely eyes. The man driving the car was about the age the girl's father would be--she was probably in her early teens--and he seemed to be listening quietly to what she was saying as she wiped the tears away.

His face did not show upset or anger--it showed pain. Whatever the girl was crying about and whatever she was saying seemed to be bringing pain to her father as well.

I don't recommend driving down Rt. 10 paying more attention to the rear-view mirror than the view out the windshield, but that's what I did. The traffic was very slow, as it often is on Rt. 10 in Cheshire. I stopped two or three times before I could get through each of the half-dozen or so traffic lights between Cornwall Ave. and the Mobil station, so I wasn't being reckless as I watched the silent drama in the car behind me.

In the back seat of the car were two young boys, I'd say younger than the girl by a year or so. They were leaning forward, the one on the driver's side had his face between the two front seats and the one of the passenger side had his head up close to the beautiful, weeping girl's headrest.

If I would say what I saw on those two boys' faces, I would call it painful concern. They too were listening to the crying girl, speaking slowly, constantly wiping the tears from her eyes as if she were embarassed by them. They looked like her, not so beautiful by half, but handsome, dark-haired young people. So--and of course I'm making this up because I couldn't hear what the girl was saying--it seemed to be a father and three siblings, driving down Rt. 10 with the daughter talking and wiping tears away.

And the other three seemed to listening with compassionate concern to what the lovely young woman was saying.

I could be totally wrong about this, but I watched it for 15 minutes on what is usually a 5 minute drive, but I don't think her pain was because of them. Only once did I see anyone but her talking. At a stop, her father turned to her and said what was probably a sentence or two. She turned to look at him as he spoke, which people don't do if the person speaking is the cause of their distress--at least that's my experience with people who have distressed me or I have distressed. You don't look at the object of your distress.

She nodded, just as the light changed and we crept forward, and begin to speak again, wiping away yet more tears.

The family was Asian, did I mention that? At least the father was, undeniably. Not Chinese or Japanese, further south or west of those. Thailand, perhaps, or Viet Nam--the father looked like he haled from those parts. The children were blended, not so obviously Asian. Perhaps their mother was Occidental (I know it's not politically correct to say 'Oriental' any more, but I've never been schooled to avoid Occidental.) Perhaps they were talking about the wife, the mother, or something that happened at school, or some deep and profound sadness in the family or the girl or simply life itself.

I wanted to keep driving ahead of them. I wanted to 'know the story' that caused this so lovely young woman with long black hair to be crying and talking. But I got to the Mobil station and pulled in. The tire had 10 lbs. per square inch of pressure. I ramped it up to 34 and drove back home wondering what happened in the car behind me, praying--actually praying--that young woman found relief, comfort, healing from her talking and her tears.

I know this, I will ponder this afternoon for a while.

(I went out at 5:30 to walk the dog and it was just twilight. A month ago--a few weeks ago--5:30 p.m. would have meant deep darkness. The Northern Hemisphere is, each day, tilting back toward the sun a bit. In the chill, surrounded by ice, today was the first day I realized the light is returning, Spring will, inexorably insinuate itself into life in New England. How wonderful is that. And, how wonderful--unless my interpretation is completely wrong {and Everything IS Interpretation, after all} of what the little drama was in that car behind me was about, people who love you being willing to listen to what you say and have concern for your tears: that too, is the Coming of the Light.)

If you pray...and however you pray...I would invite you to say a prayer for that family in my rear-view mirror....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.