Made My Day

It was the first day of classes at the Christian school where I work and Piper and I were out for a walk before the sun was up. Amy and Sara were in Ames, getting ready for the first day of classes and checking out the sorority recruitment process.

Maybe it was the heat and humidity, maybe it was a week alone, maybe it was the prospect of facing the empty nest, maybe it was the fear the nest would not stay empty, but I was uneasy this morning.

From a distance, as we approached the first corner on our walk, I was surprised to see a group of people standing around and what looked like the silhouette of a dog. I usually let Piper run without a leash – she generally stays close and her own 3-legged pace of jogging ahead and then pausing to sniff whatever delights are to be found in the grass is much easier on her. I decided to put her leash on in case the other dog was running free as well.

As we drew closer, the group turned out to be high schoolers waiting for their bus and the ‘dog’ was a musical instrument case standing on its end – I did have my contacts in. Did I mention the sun was not yet up? Not atypically for teens, none wanted to look up and acknowledge our presence. Apparently, not even the world’s most adorable dog could crack their iron resolve or break the trance of a head bowed in apparent prayer over the device-gods that we all seem to more-or-less worship in 2018.

Such was my cynical frame of mind as I trudged past. The next corner had more worshippers and not even a fairly sincere ‘good morning’ could solicit even the barest of glances. Continuing down the road, I dreaded seeing three more students approaching, spaced out about 100 feet apart. Not wanting to be rebuffed yet again, I considered moving to the other side of the street, but decided to stick with our usual path – Piper is a creature of habit after all.

The first walker did not even bother to glance up from her screen, number two was tranced into whatever was on his headphones and kept eyes locked forward and down. How sad on such a pretty morning with the first rays of light just beginning to peek through. Kids will be kids I decided, but how tragic an entire generation seems to exist in some parallel electronic universe, seeming connected to everything, yet apparently connecting to no one.

By now I had given up on number three. As he approached, I couldn’t help but think he should be out for football. He looked like an ideal lineman – sturdy, broad-shouldered and powerfully built. He had a backpack, but no headphone wire protruded. His hands swung empty at his side. No hint of a device anywhere. To my delight, and without my initiating it, he met my eye, smiled a genuine smile and gave me a hearty and sincere ‘good morning!’ With sudden, startling clarity, it reminded me just how simple and easy it is to shine a light into the life of a total stranger. I wondered how many opportunities I had missed and resolved to smile and greet more of the people I meet in my day, even if they are deep in a BlackBerry prayer.

God is on His throne, all is well. There is hope and cause for happiness and joy. One young man made my day. I hope I see him tomorrow morning.