The walk during my break at work started out just like any other. It was cloudy, a bit breezy and maybe even a little chilly. I passed a rough looking guy coming the other way, juggling my phone, trying to text my wife whilst not running into the guy. I could have sworn the guy gave me a dirty look, or at least he was sizing me up, but it could be just me. A quick glance over the shoulder offered the reassurance I needed. Rounding the corner, I was observing a middle-aged lady in a black SUV who was conscientiously stopping in the middle of the street, not for me, but for a duck. You see they like to hang out in Boise's various irrigation canals and end up on the streets sometimes. The thought that most of the people in Boise would shut down the 8 lanes of Interstate 84 for a few ducks rather than move over when overtaking a cyclist, prompted an irritated and smug smirk on my face. Maybe a little extreme I know, but I have had some interesting encounters while being a cyclist commuter in Boise.
Continuing on and crossing the street, something caught my eye. First, it was the odd looking frame of a car. A throwback from maybe the 70's or late 80's. Not being a car guy, I would really have no clue. But the tail lights, very odd looking. They seemed out of place as if a product from a bygone era. Like going to Castro's Cuba; stuck in time. Next, it was an older gentleman, alone. The owner is wheelchair bound and he had a pretty big task ahead of him. Fully collapsible, his transportation had to have its wheels taken off and both stowed behind his seat. Walking by trying to estimate Tony's situation, I was fighting my own selfishness. Should I offer to help? No, he will be alright, I thought. Stopping for a second and looking at how much work he needed to do gave me the courage to walk over and at least ask. At first, Tony politely refused. Then he took the wheels off and then allowed me to lift the chair behind the driver's seat. We both struggled for a moment to get it just right. He said there was a "sweet spot" and Tony was a pro at finding it even as he sits in the driver's seat, immobile. Still amazed, I don't know how Tony does this by himself day in and day out. Just picking up milk, which most take for granted, is a major undertaking for him.
Exchanging pleasantries and walking away, a wave of raw and warm emotions washed over me. Even bringing a few mini tears to my eyes. Hard to describe those emotions but I suppose the strongest was gratefulness. I was now truly humbled to have working legs. The simple act of pedaling my bike or getting out of my car, without hassle or incident, has a new meaning prompted by seeing how hard some people in the world have to struggle. Secondly, the spiritual element to all this for me was briefly getting over myself putting other people first, which is what Christ taught and more importantly, put into action. In other words, yielding and allowing God to use me in that moment even though I would have had rather just continue on my own selfish way.
Be under no illusion, I was not operating under some kind of savior complex. I know Tony would have been perfectly fine without me. But I felt compelled and would like to think I was inspired spiritually. Plus, I am sure he appreciates a little bit of friendliness. Further, I admire Tony's great attitude even in his adversity. Never did I sense an undertone of hostility or bitterness from him even though he admittedly has it pretty hard. I have to admit in this circumstance, Tony just might be a better man than me.
Matthew 20:16 -"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
Tedashii - Reverse ft. Andy Mineo