March 2012

Joy Giver


A cab arrived at 2:30 am; the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.  Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away.  But this cabbie had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.  Unless a situation smelled of danger, he always went to the door-the passenger might need assistance. So he walked to the door and knocked.  "Just a minute," answered a frail voice.  He could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened.  A small woman in her 80s stood before him.  She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it; like somebody out of a 1940s movie.  By her side was a small nylon suitcase.  The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years.  All the furniture was covered with sheets.  There were no clocks on the walls, knickknacks, or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. "Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she asked. He took the suitcase to the cab, and returned to assist the woman. She took his arm and they walked slowly toward the curb.  She kept thanking him for his kindness. "It's nothing,” he told her.  "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated."  When they got in the cab, she gave him an address, and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"  "It's not the shortest way," he answered quickly. "Oh, I don't mind," she said.  "I'm in no hurry.  I'm on my way to a hospice." He looked in the rearview mirror.  Her eyes were glistening.  "I don't have any family left and the doctor says I don't have long."  He quietly reached over and shut off the meter.  "What route would you like me to take?" He asked.  For the next two hours, they drove through the city.  She showed him the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.  They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds.  She had him pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask him to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.  As the first hint of sun, she suddenly said, "I'm tired.  Let's go now."  They drove in silence to the address she had given.  It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up.  They must have been expecting her.  The cab driver opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door.  The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.  "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. "Nothing," he said. "You have to make a living," she answered.  "There are other passengers," he responded. Then, almost without thinking, he bent and gave her a hug.  She held onto him tightly.  "You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said.  "Thank you."  He squeezed her hand, and walked into the dim morning light. Behind him a door shut-the sound of a life coming to the end of a journey. The cab driver didn't pick up any more passengers that shift.  He drove aimlessly, lost in thought. “What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, and then driven away?”  On a quick review, that was one of the most important things he had done in his life.  

We are conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.  But great moments often catch us unaware--beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.  People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

We live in a hurting world that needs people to share the joy. As believers in Jesus Christ, and vessels of the Holy Spirit, God can use us to be joy giver-to reach out to others and pour out the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23) to others. Each day we have a choice, to be a joy giver or a joy taker. Therefore, open your eyes and hearts to people around, and allow God’s joy to flow from you to people in need.

                                                                                                                           - Pastor Mike Kotrla