February 26, 2010

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Try it today … will you let God bless you?

Debra TomaselliHurrying to get my shopping done, I pulled into a space in the parking lot of a department store, turned off the car and hopped out. As I did, I heard a commotion.

“Quit crying,” a man roared. I looked, and in the aisle across from me stood a burly man hovering over a little boy. The man, his face twisted in rage, shook his fist at the child. “Only girls cry,” he shouted. “Are you a stupid girl?” The little boy stood rigid, hands at his side.

“Get back in the car,” the man screamed. The child scrambled into the vehicle. Before I finished locking my car, the man hollered again. “Stand here,” he bellowed, pointing at the pavement beside himself. The child scuttled into place and stood there, shaking.

Anger and fear rushed over me as I witnessed the scene. My mind was racing, struggling with options. If I said something, it could just aggravate the situation. If I called the police, what could they do? I couldn’t overpower the man or take the boy home with me.

I was halfway to the store when I heard the tyrant chide the boy. “Don’t you dare speak,” he shouted. “If you say anything, I’ll break your jaw.”

A young couple exiting their vehicle glanced toward the uproar, and I hurried to them. “There’s a little boy with him,” I said. “What can we do?” They paused for a moment, but the guy tugged his girlfriend’s hand and they quickened their steps toward the store.

Disappointed, I couldn’t believe they chose to ignore the situation when suddenly I realized that I was doing the same thing. Appalled, I decided I had to do something.

I turned on my heel and moved toward the troubled pair. “Please God,” I whispered. “Give me the words.”

Immediately, an overwhelming feeling of love filled me and overflowed toward the disturbed man and the terrified child. Surprisingly, I felt no fear, anger or revenge. I felt bubble-wrapped in love.

As I approached, I extended my hands. “Sir, can I help you?” I heard myself say.

The man cast a glance at me. “He is my business,” he grumbled, “and I am taking care of what I need to take care of. You would do well to take care of your business.”

He pushed the boy toward the store.

I wanted to say we are all each other’s business, that we are all here to help one another, that we are all in this together, but I knew it would fall on deaf ears. Instead, I chose silence and offered a prayer. “God bless you,” I said, as they passed by.

They didn’t look my way, but I know they heard me. The man slowed his steps and released his grip on the child. I watched them enter the store, somewhat relieved that once inside he would be held to a certain level of accountability. At least for now, the tumultuous situation was alleviated.

My only hope is that they, too, sensed the love that surrounded me on my approach. Hopefully, the child knew he was not alone. Maybe the man realized he was accountable to others.

I did what I could. It wasn’t much, but it was the best I could offer. In return, I received an incredible blessing. For, in so doing, I experienced the unconditional love of God.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.) †

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