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?


  1. wonderful reminders all around!

    and that was a nice little bit of psychology you produced (if only internally)...i love that the little girl spoke those direct words to her mother. i hope her mother took them to heart!

  2. having had the same situation in different ways several times (ie: using a bathroom marked specifically for those in wheel chairs only to come out and two women in wheelchairs watiing)....i've adopted 'we are all in need be patient' when it comes to public bathrooms...my needs no greater than another..esp. a child.
    looking back you probably have thought that it wouldn't have hurt you much to await the 2 or 3 minutes for the daughter and mother to go and then you could...time and again these precious lessons teach me that my needs are no greater than another's. thanks for the reminder. beautiful photos of maui...what took u there?

  3. Lucy - thought I did ok on the psychology AND in keeping it to myself. I hope the mother was listening to.

    Tresha - oh, so true, I just felt badly that I my mis-assessment and ugency had shoved the two of them into one stall when they possibly could or would have used the two at the same time. A reminder not to be "short" with someone else who misjudges in something that takes advantage of me by accident. We're all in too big a hurry. Thanks for coming by.