|"A shortcut to what?"|
On Sunday, Jacob and I walked to the park to throw around a Frisbee for a bit. Afterwards, on our walk home, instead of walking up Woodlawn to directly get home, Jacob walked with me down another street (Pershing) to take a slightly longer way. I wasn't entirely sure why we were going that way, since we have a defined route we always take (the shortest and most direct route) to the park and campus, but I was cool with it. As we walked down the street, praying our Rosary, Jacob stopped me. He gestured to a group of kids who were huddled around a table. "Want to get some lemonade?"
It was the cutest thing ever: a bunch of young kids gathered around a lemonade stand. A piece of paper tacked to the table was filled with scrawls and misspellings, right next to a pitcher of lemonade. We asked them for some, and Jacob handed over a dollar. Some of the kids gasped. "A whole dollar? Whoa!" One girl (probably the oldest one there, about 10 years old or so?) stood a little taller, and, with the air of a monarch, plucked coins off the table to give us our change. I asked them what they were saving money for, and they chimed in with "We're gonna give it to our friend. Our neighbor." We thanked them and went on our way. It was such a small thing: a lemonade stand and a bunch of children on a Sunday afternoon, having fun and helping a friend. But really, it was such a blessing sent from God. Not only a yummy drink, but the chance to make the day brighter for those kids (and they made our day brighter, too). All because we went on a detour from our "normal" route.
Wednesday afternoon, I was walking around the neighborhood, and it was time to head home. Again, instead of going my typical way--to get directly home--I walked a down a side street, to take a longer way. Down the sidewalk, I could see a red-haired boy (probably about 9 or 10 years old) shuffling down the sidewalk, mumbling and singing to himself. As I passed him, I smiled and told him that he was singing nicely. He stopped, his face lit up, and he said, "Look at my moves, too!" and started pulling a couple "break dance" moves on the sidewalk. I smiled, and said if he kept it up, he could probably get famous someday. As I prepared to walk on, the kid stopped me. "Hey, do you want to sing with me?" he asked.
"Uh, okay, sure," I replied, suddenly blanking out as to what I could sing. (every song I knew decided to flee from my brain.)
Then, the boy (who had an extremely short attention span) excitedly pointed to my hand. "Hey, I like your necklace!" (I was holding a rosary that is made of several irregularly shaped, bright, flowery beads)
I jumped at the chance, and excitedly started telling him how awesome Mary is, and what the Rosary is, and how we meditate on Jesus' life. He smiled at me, got a blank look on his face, and said, "Um, so what are we going to sing?" Since I did not know Tim McGraw songs (the boy's first choice), we settled on Disney music. So, for the next few minutes, this kid and I were exuberantly singing "Hakuna Matata," "Let it Go," and a little bit from "Tangled." I then went on my way to do chores at home, leaving the boy alone, shuffling down the sidewalk alone. Stopping to sing with him and be his friend was such a small thing, but such a glorious blessing. The boy's face lit up when we sang, and I could tell he didn't want me to go (he kept asking me questions as I was going to leave), because he liked having someone to talk with. It was a way to encounter Christ in that little boy--to show him God's love by being there for him. And it all happened because I left the "beaten path."
It can be so easy to stick to the normal routine. Walk a certain way to class, sit in a certain pew at church, talk to these certain people. But God can do crazy things when we do something radical--walking down a different road, meeting someone new, introducing yourself to that person you've seen every Sunday for years but have never talked to (I'm very guilty of this...)--you get the idea. Routine is good, peaceful, and can be very healthy. But I think it's very important to work under the Holy Spirit's guidance, and step off that beaten path of normalcy sometimes. Who knows how God will use you?
"The apostle has no aim other than letting God work, making himself available."
~St. Josemaria Escriva (and it's his feast day today, which is awesome!!!)