Saturday, November 19, 2005

A picture of God

I've said it a hundred times over. I want to be a writer. And though I may not demostrate it very well here, I can work with words pretty well. The problem, though, is that a writer must have something to write about. Words are nothing unless they're wrapped around an idea, some beautiful truth, right? But I'm learning to see the beauty and truth in the experiences of every day. It's real and it's not foreign.

Tonight, Sara Groves was singing about a song that beauty and why it matters in our lives, about how the story God's telling us and putting us in is beautiful. And the end of that song goes, "Like a single cup of water / How it matters." And it reminded me:

When I worked at Hart lab on Sunday nights a couple semesters ago, there was a non-trad lady who would be there every time. I guess I didn't notice her at first, but one day, she came in the Applied Science lab where I worked throughout the week. I worked with her for about an hour, trying to see if she could edit a PDF. We never figured it out, but she was grateful nevertheless.

I suppose it was after that day that I began to notice her in Hart. She had set up camp in that lab, often leaving her belongings (textbooks, project materials she'd been working on for countless hours, whatever) spread out around her workstation while she would be gone for extended amounts of time. I guess she had faith in the other students, that they wouldn't take her things.

One time when she had left for nearly half an hour, she came back in the door with a bag from Fast Track. And she handed it to me. "For me?" I asked her. "Yes, I thought you might be hungry." She was serious. So I took the plastic sack from her, thanked her, and sat there at my computer, dumbfounded. She smiled and went back to her work.

I opened the bag, and inside was a red apple, a small package of peanut butter and crackers, and an ice cream. I wasn't hungry and it was against the rules to eat in the lab (and I, being the lab supervisor), but I ate the crackers and the apple (the ice cream was already kind of melty) out of sheer gratitude. I don't know if she had money on her meal plan left over and bought these items with me in mind or if she got full and decided to give me the rest of her meal or just what. I have no idea. But she gave it to me, and I know (if I know anything) that it was with love. And that is true love -- perplexing, uncommon, and beautiful love. Love like a cup of cold, fresh water when you're thirsty.

It's been just over a week since the woman known to many as Nana -- known only to me as the kind lady who gave me a sack of food from Fast Track out of the goodness of her heart -- was killed in a hideous accident. When I heard her name in the news, I did not recognize it, but it was still very sad to me. It broke my heart. And it had crossed my mind that the victim of the hit-and-run was the woman from Hart. It was confirmed to me yesterday when I saw her face on the front page of the Murray State News.

In the front-page article and in a piece on the opinion page, people gave testimony of Nadia Shahin's pure spirit, her kindness, her gratefulness. And I knew it was true. She had shown both her kindness and gratefulness to me. When I had deserved neither. That is love. That is beauty. She gave me a single cup of water. And now in shadow of her death, I can see how it mattered -- to me and to everyone else around her.

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