The wind picks up suddenly and blows all my name cards away from me, just as I am about to take the group shot. Like a scene out of a comedy, I take off chasing them. Two elude me, flying farther away each time I almost catch them. An audience might have chuckled, but I was alone.
Or, at least, I thought I was. After rounding up the cards and getting a different picture elsewhere (away from the wind), I am on my way again, pushing onward to the end of two miles. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a car parked in the nearby lot, with at least four people sitting inside. Then a woman jumps out, clearly with a mission at hand, and I hear her yell to me.
“Excuse me, ma’am?”
I glance over and see her fully, carrying a book and pamphlets I recognize without actually seeing them up close.
“I just saw you picking up trash and I thought, ‘Wow, here’s a woman who cares about our earth!'”
I tamp down the immediate response that threatens to spew forth: “These people are not trash!” But she has no idea what I am actually doing, so I swallow them down and speak different words.
“Actually, these are mine. The wind blew them so I was catching them.”
“Oh,” she says, accepting an invitation where there is none. “Well, I just thought you cared about the earth, so–”
“I DO care about the earth, but for this moment, I’m on a mission for these abuse victims.”
“I see. That’s very nice. Well, as you know, in Revelations [I do not correct her, which should say a lot for how patient I am being] we learn the earth will be no more, but for now, we must protect it.” She then tells me her name, her religious affiliation, and offers me a tract.
“I care about the earth, and I am a Christian,” I say, “And today I’m walking for victims of abuse. I’m actually…I was actually…in prayer for them when you came up. I’m doing a 1,000 miles challenge to raise awareness for abuse and violence, so if you’d be interested in–”
“Oh, OK, you have a good day now.”
“No, wait,” I say. “I’d love to have you visit my web site at–”
“Nice to meet you!”
And she turns and walks back to her car. I stand there with her tract, looking from it to her, not surprised yet again that some messages are expected to be heard, while others are silenced with a smile and head-in-the-sand approach.
If a woman is punched in the face and no one sees it, does she make a sound?
Our world is important, no doubt, and I appreciate the effort to educate others, but what good is this earth without love? And what is love if not the desire to hear about those who are hurting? And what good is the hearing if the action will not follow?
Here’s what I learned from the woman in the park:
- She was brave and bold.
- She had a message to share and did not hesitate to seek me out.
- She was not willing to hear what I had to say, and that is just a great reminder to speak out, but also to listen.
Let me brave and bold. Let me share my message. Let me seek out those who need to hear it, and most of all, let me hear them when they speak back. Let me listen, let me act, let me do.
*Previously appeared at Live-Brave.com