Once upon a pandemic, there was a mom. She was a little bit sad and a whole lotta tired. She didn’t recognize her life anymore. She wondered where all this was going. And she desperately missed her people.
She got in the car one day and drove away. Not for long — you weren’t supposed to run into people in public bathrooms during a pandemic, after all — but just for a quick drive to get out of the house and clear her mind.
The open road felt like heaven. She dreamed about driving for thousands of miles, not stopping until she reached the ocean. She’d put her toes in the sand. She’d close her eyes and remember the freedom of being out on the water. Not stuck in her house.
But she didn’t drive those thousands of miles, of course. Pretty soon, she turned around and headed right back home.
When she took the exit from the interstate back to the rural life, she looked a few paces ahead and saw two young men. One was sitting, tired. The other stood with a sign.
They must have been in their 20s or early 30s. Their long hair was disheveled. Their clothes were scruffy from time on the road.
There were cars coming up behind her. She didn’t have time to think it over.
She didn’t usually keep cash. She had one big bill in the console — emergency money. She threw on a mask, grabbed the bill, and rolled down the window.
It was the closest anyone had come to her in two months.
He reached for the bill, then hesitated.
They made eye contact and settled there for a second.
He looked a little bit sad and a whole lotta tired. She knew he probably didn’t recognize his life anymore. He must have wondered where all this was going. He must have missed his people.
But he wasn’t planted in his comfortable car. He wouldn’t be tucked away inside his house safely that night.
Even a minute later, she wouldn’t remember what he said — only that he was incredibly thankful.
As she drove away, she tossed off the mask and cried.
She wondered if there’d been a window of her life when she wouldn’t have instinctively reached for the mask and the money. And not because she wouldn’t have cared, but because fear might have prevented her from doing what was right. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the stranger.
She wondered if there’d been a time when she would have chosen not to be a neighbor.
She wondered if there’d been a time when she might have believed — subconsciously — what some would’ve said about the young man on the side of the interstate.
“The least of these,” they might have suggested, using modern terms instead.
But it was like this mama had just looked into the eyes of Jesus.
Those eyes were sad.
And they were tired.
But they were full of grace.
Full of humanity.
Full of love.
Today, that mama feels forever thankful she met him on the side of the road. Thankful she looked into those eyes.
The eyes that showed her Jesus.
She knows she’ll wonder about that moment for the rest of her life.
She knows she’ll look for him in heaven.
Because the gift he gave her — the moment they shared — is one she’ll remember for always.