Our love for the world is boundless. Our love for each other can often be conditional until we settle deeper into our own humanity and let our heart fall open. In this vulnerable, honest, compassionately alive way of living we can meet each other, touch each other and celebrate each other in ways beyond what we can possibly know.
I experienced a moment like this not too long ago. I was stopped at a busy intersection waiting for the light to turn green. My eyes were focused on watching steam rise from the asphalt on this triple-digit day when an elderly man carefully pushed his grocery basket into the crosswalk. I knew this particular pedestrian walk cycle was not long enough for anyone who wasn’t sprinting to make it across before the signal changed. This guy’s measured barefoot steps were not going to be rushed.
His matted white hair dripped sweat onto his cheeks. His cart, piled high with tattered boxes, clothes and gadgets of various shapes, had a bulging plastic bag of cans tied to the side. He reached the intersection’s halfway island as the signal changed to green. All cars waited. No one seemed in a hurry to leave.
A young man in the car to my right opened the window of his older model Honda Civic and shouted, “Hey mister, here you go!” A pair of black and grey athletic shoes, strung together by their laces, landed near the cart. The crosswalk-traveler picked them up and set them atop his bundle like cherries on a sundae and continued to the far curb. By then my signal had turned red again. Given a gift of time, I watched the recipient gingerly place his blistered feet into new shoes.
In moments like these, when the raw vulnerability of our humanity meets a compassionate heart, we come together differently. We are opened to our natural inclination to care. We see with clearer, softer eyes. We live more tenderly with each other and share more willingly. This moment in time, witnessed by drivers and passengers in 4 lanes of cars in 4 directions, revealed a wholehearted artistry of being that connected us and delivered us into an unexpected moment of everyday grace.
It’s impossible to know how many people came closer in to their hearts by watching those sneakers sail through the air, the slow bend to lift them from the steaming pavement, the continuing plod across the street, the man with new shoes and the man who let them fly.