This past Friday we held a memorial service for Carl, an elder in my church. He was a great guy. He always had a smile on his face, always had a joke to tell. His prayers were passionate and his singing joyful. We miss him already.
After the Memorial Service a group from the church wanted to eat lunch so we headed down to our local mall. I had mixed feelings about going, given that I was on crutches and in pain from my ACL surgery just days earlier. One of my parishioners, Linda (a nurse) had the bright idea to get a wheel chair from the mall customer service desk. So we did. So on i hopped and it was a great relief for my knee that by this point in the day was throbbing with pain.
As I was wheeled around the mall, a mall which by the way I have been to countless times. I noticed that people starred, or at least tried not to stare. They looked on as though having sympathy for my situation. The ice cream vendor wanted to give me free ice cream, not just a sample but a free scoop. After finally choosing a place to eat, while standing in line a lady with a big smile asked, “Is the food good here? I have never eaten here.” She continued to talk. Never before had anyone engaged me in a full conversation. I think the wheel chair, or what the wheel chair represented moved the lady into a conversation with me.
As I thought about this incident over the weekend, I kept wondering what the wheelchair represents. A loss of life, less independence, sadness that I could not walk. I dunno. But it seems to be the case that for those that were looking at me being wheeled around thought something. The thing that got to me the most was that it took me being in a wheelchair for people to begin to care about others. What does this say about us? What does this say about me? When was the last time I took the time to initiate a conversation with a perfect stranger?