Tuesday, March 03, 2009
A Little Lenten Parable
(While on Maui)......fresh off of an exciting whale watching excursion and bolting for a land based women's room, I encountered a young mother and child entering a small public restroom. The mother turned to lock the door and I said, "Oh, excuse me - aren't there two stalls in there?" The mother immediately replied, "yes, of course" and allowed me to enter the space as well, I into one stall and the mother/child into the other one. As we got down to business in our own ways, the mother was impatient and rushed, telling the child not to touch things, to hurry up, and then to hold the mother's things as she needed to use the space as well to meet her own needs.
I heard the little girl ask, "why were you so nice to that lady and now not to me?" I realized then that I had unthinkingly pushed my way into a space provided for two persons when actually there were three of us. I was a bit desperate but in my hurriedness, I overlooked the fact that both mother and child were in need of the same thing I was. I answered back from my "space" - "your mom was nice to me because she could see how badly I needed to come in here." I could have just as well replied because your mom had compassion on me, but that seemed a bit of exaggerated language for such a little girl. Through my pop analysis of the situation I could have also said that your mom's not actually angry with you but with me and you are the "me" that she's being impatient with......but you know I sort of just left it alone instead of trying to act as Dr. Phil in a public toilet space!
As I was washing my hands, I reflected as to why we humans think it important to show compassion to a stranger, even if only in a bathroom situation, and then take our impatience and annoyance with the stranger out on a person very near and dear to our hearts? It wasn't a big deal but it was just one of those moments when I connected with treating others (especially those we love) as we would want to be treated ourselves. You might say it was a reminder moment, an aha moment, a learning opportunity, maybe even a parable?