The Extra Mile

“Go the extra mile, it is never crowded.” -unknown-

I saw this quote this morning that culminated much of my thinking this past four years or so when it comes to who we are as a nation and where we may be headed. We are not only lost politically, but emotionally, morally and ethically. As a whole, we are choosing to step on imaginary enemies who, for the most part we haven’t ever met. We are morally bankrupt, just as our country is monetarily. Many tote their Bible as proof of who they are, but some don’t follow the teachings written within. It is a puzzle to me for it is a great book of thoughtful scribe.

A month or so ago I took my friend on a short one-day road trip and stopped to gas up partway through the trip. I pumped my gas, tightened the tank plug and closed the lid. I stopped at the hatch back of my car to take my coat off and I heard this quiet voice behind me say, “Excuse me, but could you help me?”

The older man was obviously embarrassed, holding a credit card in his hand, and of course, I said sure I would help him and we walked back to his car. He had the tank open, but from there he was at a loss. “My wife passed away two months ago and she did all this kind of thing. In fact this is her car.” The “car” was a Camaro and nearly new, I got a chuckle out of that as I thought to myself, I hoped he could drive it.

I showed him how to insert the card and of course, it asked for his zip code. “What is your zip code”, I asked? He squinted and then shook his head, he didn’t know, she paid the bills. At that point I almost asked him if he was a runaway, but didn’t. I pulled out my phone and asked him his home address; he knew that. I typed it into my phone and there was the zip code. We had the pump started and he knew how to pump the gas. Mission accomplished.

What was more important than him filling his car, was the gratification of helping him. He was so appreciative, thankful and I think he felt more confident in his new role in life; a single older guy. I felt blessed to have had him in my day and reminding me in no small way, people matter. Love matters. Gratitude matters. Life matters.

Janis Joplin, who wrote “Me and Bobby McGee” has a line in there, “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”, it will make you think of your life, our lives, what matters and is important. I happen to believe we have a lot to lose and in the last four plus years we have lost plenty. Our dignity, trust and kindheartedness is lost in a sea of disrespect for frankly no reason at all. Parishioners are not repenting for more than five minutes at a time, then loading their guns for an enemy they know not. We are teaching our kids to pull guns as a symbol of freedom?  We want to harm people who disagree with us rather than learn how to communicate. I must have missed the memo that hate is preferable.

Kris Kristopherson, someone I have briefly met and love him for his gift to song writing, wrote a line in one of his songs, “if Christ came back tomorrow, we would string him up again.” I believe he was right. We are easily blinded by the “light of the world” as Christ described himself in John 8:12 . We seem to stare into it rather than reflecting it and lighting our path forward. We are traveling blind down a road of darkness. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses in the game of politics for we are but specks in a universe of ongoing creation, but without the light we are in perpetual darkness. Right where evil wants us.

I find myself bewildered at the quickness we cast our neighbors, friends and families as “the other”. I have educated opinions on politics, but discarding my friends, family or neighbors is out of the question for me. I figure I can learn from them and them from me, but not unless we listen.

Who helps the man at the gas station if we need voting credentials first? The answer is, frankly no one. The man is left to fend for himself. Do we really want to turn him away? He was looking for the light and he spotted me for it was lighting his way, not blinding him. If we turn left we are blind, if we turn right we cast a dark shadow, but if look to the center we will find the light and the path that leads us to each other. Stay focused on the middle it will take you that extra mile.

Leave a Reply