Yesterday mid-morning, I gave a young woman a ride.
She was walking a near by road in flimsy lounge wear covered in a sweater, one thumb stuck out in the air, the other wrapped tightly to her body.
It was cold (teens) and the wind was icy.
I came upon her quickly and passed her by, realized what I had done, and turned back, turning again to pull beside her.
She barley looked up, but I could see the tears streaming down her cheeks. Her thin body was shivering as she climbed into my truck.
I blasted the heat to help warm her.
I asked where she was going, waited a little longer and asked if she was o.k, REALLY o.k.
She gave me a grateful weak smile and said, " Yes, it's just been a really BAD morning."
"Yeh, I've had a few of those, too," I reponded.
Giving her a few minutes, I then discovered she had already walked close to 3 miles from the local college, before I'd seen her.
I drove several miles to her home and wished her well.
Upon returning and relaying the story to my family, they were chock full of questions.
"WHAT?! You didn't ASK her?!""What REALLY happened?"
"Surely she must have lied to you. She couldn't have walked all that way in the cold"---
and then THEIR stories began.
" It was her boyfriend. They had a fight and he threw her out of the car."
"She couldn't call because the school is locked up tight."
"Maybe it was a friend--what kind of friend would that be?"
"No, she's psychotic and was lying about the whole thing."
On and on ad nauseum they continued, looking at me with disbelief.
I had not gotten her story.
I had not pried into her personal pain.
I had allowed her the right to her own story, not to be taken by a curious stranger.
Why do we need to KNOW??
Is it so that we can package things up tidily and put them on the shelf?
So that we can opinionate (is that a word?) and judge?
Did I want to know? Darn tootin' I did!
But, I think sometimes we need to remember it's NOT about US.
It's not about KNOWING.
It's about BEING--just being there--quietly, firmly, yet gently---available.
I'm not SURE that was all she needed, but praying as I drove, it felt right.
I don't know her story.
I don't know her name.
She's been on my mind this morning. I pray she has a much better day.