Once the region’s worst snowstorm in five years decided to end (some four days after the first flakes had fallen), I finally got around to digging out my pickup truck so I could head into the office for a meeting.
“Driveway deprived” city dwellers like me well know the frustrations of such a task, which requires you to remove all the snow from your plowed-in vehicle without dumping the white stuff on the street, the sidewalk or your neighbor’s yard. In the process, you must avert moving vehicles, pedestrians, dogs, and any number of items (lawn chairs, garbage cans, old televisions) used to secure others’ parking spaces. What little road surface you’re able to clear will, through melting and refreezing, become glazed with ice, making the hours you spent dislodging your automobile from winter’s grip almost a complete waste of time.
Such was the case the other morning when, having carved out a passage for my Chevy the night prior, I was forced to take up my shovel yet again — while wearing dress shoes. I’d hoped a few quick stabs at the slick spots (against which even the best four-wheel-drive was no match) would be enough to get me on my way. After one overzealous stroke, however, I suddenly found myself sprawled on my belly in the snow, inches from the stream of traffic.
And all the while, the cars kept moving.
Not one person slowed, let alone stopped, to see if I was hurt or to ask if I needed help. One man stared at me, chewed his gum, and continued to edge his car forward.
Fortunately, except for my pride I wasn’t hurt, and I rose to eventually wrestle my truck onto the street and into work. But the apparent unconcern of the passersby had left me shaken and angry, and I began to grouse to God at length about the selfish indifference of his creatures.
The response I sensed in my spirit surprised me:
“Now you know how I feel.”
The thought stung, but on reflection, I couldn’t argue.
How many times do we encounter Christ in those experiencing homelessness or addiction or mental illness, and never even glance — or worse, look through them, and ultimately him?
How often do we skim past the news stories that tell of tragedy and injustice in foreign lands, without considering that the victims, wrapped in different skin tones and speaking unfamiliar languages, are divinely created beings no less human than ourselves?
How aware are we of the millions of unborn slain in the womb worldwide each year, with some 73.3 million — six million more than France’s current population — aborted from 2015-2019 alone?
And how frequently do we leave Christ in the Eucharist unadored in our churches, preferring instead the fleeting distractions of the flesh?
By the time I reached my office that morning, I was thanking God for that unexpected tumble in the snow — because it had, if only for a moment, actually restored my true balance.
Gina Christian is a senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com, host of the Inside CatholicPhilly.com podcast and author of the forthcoming book “Stations of the Cross for Sexual Abuse Survivors.” Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.
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