Last week, I witnessed a student lying on the pavement after she had been struck by a car. She is a student at the high school where I work, and she didn’t see the car coming toward her as she crossed the street after school. When I got to the scene, several people surrounded her as she convulsed and then stopped breathing. It was a horrific sight.
Knowing she was cared for, I ran inside to have my assistant notify her parents. Then I went back to the scene to comfort her friend, who had been walking with her when she was struck. In the time it took to run back into the school and back out, all I could do was pray. Well, if that’s what you call chanting “God” and “Jesus” over and over, with other words like, “help” and “please” and “save” and “heal” and “comfort” mixed in.
Today the student came to school after a miraculous recovery. Not a bone broken or an internal injury of which to speak. She looked perfect.
Several days later, I spoke with my friend who needs to make some serious decisions related to one of her children. She was at a loss regarding how to handle the issues she has noticed with said child. She was exhausted, confused and sad. She needed to confide in someone, so she asked if she could share her story with me. For an hour and a half, we chatted. I listened. I offered feeble suggestions, and I cried.
Then tonight, a friend texted while I was at dinner with another friend. She told me she was feeling the crushing pain of her impending divorce. I asked if I could come give her a quick hug to which she agreed. When she opened the front door, I was greeted by a heartbroken woman with swollen eyes and a red, stuffy nose. We sat on the couch and I gave her a hug and prayed with her. Her words were so familiar: “I can’t believe this is my story.” I knew exactly what she meant.
Sometimes life shoots us out of some mysterious cannon we don’t realize we have even been stuffed into. There we are in the dark confines of a place so unfamiliar. We are oblivious to what is happening to us and just as we see some sliver of light, we realize someone lit the thing. Suddenly we are flying through mid-air, wondering how long we’ll be tossed about, and if we will ever land. And when we do land, we wonder if we’ll survive the blow we will no doubt experience from the force of being fired out of such a dark, narrow space. We wonder how we will explain what just happened to us and how we will go on from this new place.
When my friend sent the text tonight, I had nothing to give. I had no flowers or ice cream or Starbucks. I had no cards or candy or special words of wisdom. I didn’t even have a single tissue in my purse.
All I had was me.
That was all I had to give tonight…
and the other day on the phone…
and last week as I ran to see how I could help the sweet girl struck by the car.
And that is all any of us can really give when the obstacles are bigger than we can manage or the outlook seems too grim. When it comes to the lives of those we care for and love, we show up. We hold a hand. We cradle the injured. Carry the weak. Lift up the brokenhearted. That’s all I could do. Just me… and a prayer.