March 13, 2020

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Near accident results in God’s work of mercy

Kimberly PohoveyLent always makes me give pause to our need to practice the corporal works of mercy. Years ago, I almost hit a man while driving my car on a curvy stretch of road. I could barely think through my trembling. To my great shame, my first thought was fleeing the scene as quickly as possible. But God always offers us a choice.

That morning, I was driving my kids to school, which was located around the corner from that narrow, curvy road. A man walked toward the direction of my car, along the side of the road, carrying his morning cup of coffee.

As I approached him, some commotion caught my attention inside the car. Honestly, I cannot remember the catalyst anymore, and I reached down to retrieve something from the floor. As I did, I swerved slightly to the right side of the road. The man was walking extremely close to the roadside and was startled enough to fling his cup of coffee which splattered across my windshield. It happened in a split-second.

As I passed him, I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw him raise his arms in anger. While I could not hear him, I could only guess what choice words he had for me.

Thoughts began to race through my mind. I needed to get my boys to school before they were late. I could just drive on—no one would know. I should turn around and apologize. I knew what was the right thing to do. We always know.

I quickly dropped off my kids and returned. I found that the gentleman had not progressed much farther down the road. I pulled over into a nearby lot and raced to catch up to him. He turned around and stared at me in disbelief. I took him in, noting his disheveled appearance.

After a few very uncomfortable minutes of staring, he finally responded, “I can’t believe you came back.” I assumed he was still angry. I expressed my sorrow, asked for his forgiveness and offered to buy him another drink. To which he again replied, “I can’t believe you came back.” I rambled an excuse about being distracted while driving and repeated my sorrow. His face softened.

I handed him a $20 bill to buy himself a replacement cup of coffee and told him to keep the rest. I told him I would offer more if I had it on me. I was still unsure of his reaction when he began to cry. He said that no one had ever treated him like this. He hugged me. I finally realized he was grateful. Can you imagine? He was grateful!

We introduced ourselves to one another. He explained to me that he was nearly homeless and going blind. He was on his way to catch a bus to an eye doctor appointment. He would need to make a bus transfer and wasn’t sure he had enough bus fare to make his way. While walking along that road, he was praying to God to help him find a way to make it to his appointment. That’s when I literally careened into his life.

God definitely works in mysterious ways. Had I not sought his forgiveness, he would not have had the bus fare he needed to see a doctor who hopefully helped him.

We parted ways teary-eyed. I was touched by his mercy. He felt I was the answer to his prayer. Both of our thirsts were quenched.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of mission advancement for Archdiocesan Education Initiatives.)

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