By the time Kayla had crossed one empty lot and reached the intersection of two busy streets, she had developed a kind of rhythm to her steps. Steps and quick half-steps gave her a funny but productive gait. Only two blocks left and she’d reach the last empty lot she needed to cross before arriving at the park. Spotting a bus stop across the street, she pushed the pedestrian button on the post, and then clung to it for support as she waited for the light to change. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles flew past her and she wondered where they were all going in such a hurry. Didn’t people ever slow down?
“Do you? “
She ignored the accusing voice in her head. She had good reason for the way she drove. The little walking icon turned white and she began to hurry as much as she could while limping. She knew she wouldn’t make it to the other side of the street in time, and sure enough it began blinking while she was halfway across. Well, she was already in the street and those drivers would just have to wait. She limped her way to the sidewalk, grateful to find a ramp. Trying to climb a curb would have been challenging no matter how low the curb might have been. She made her way to the bench at the bus stop, dropped heavily on it, and let out a loud groaning sigh. A few other people were on the sidewalk heading in different directions, but no one looked at her. Fine, let them be that way. She didn’t need them.
Soon an old man shuffled up to her and carefully lowered himself on the bench next to her. She scooted a few inches away, and tried to ignore him. But he didn’t seem to notice. Instead he spoke in a loud but friendly voice. “Hi. You waiting on the bus?”
Kayla shook her head at him briskly, and then turned away from him again. And again he didn’t seem to notice. “Not waiting on the bus? Then why are you sitting here? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Kayla lied, hoping it would end the conversation.
“You don’t look fine, if you don’t mind me saying.” The man fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a yellow handkerchief. “Here, it looks like you need this more than I do.”
Kayla stared at the offering, and then at the man. She didn’t want the handkerchief, but was touched that he would offer. “No, it’s okay. But thanks, though.”
“No really. Even if you’re not going to ride the bus, you are going somewhere. And I think you would feel better if you cleaned your face a little. It looks like you slid down a mountain face first.”
“Something like that,” Kayla admitted. She took the handkerchief. “Thanks.” Pulling out her bottle of water, she wet the cloth and wiped it quickly across her face, being careful not to apply pressure to her nose. She was about to hand it back to him but stopped when she saw the mixture of dirt and blood that coated the small cloth. No wonder he had asked if she was okay. Pouring more water on it, she squeezed out the excess and ran it over her face again. This time she took care to cleanse her entire face. She looked at the man. “Better?”
He smiled. “Much. Do you want to talk about what happened?”
Kayla didn’t. It wasn’t any of his business. But she didn’t know how to tell him that after his kindness, so she said simply, “I fell.”
“That was some fall, from the looks of it. You should see a doctor.”
“I’ll be okay. I just need to get home.”
The both sat in silence for a few minutes. Kayla hoped the bus would arrive before he could ask her any more questions. But no such luck.
“Can I ask you something? It might seem kind of strange, but I feel like I need to ask it.”
Curious, Kayla nodded.
“Which direction were you facing when you… fell… this morning?”
“What?” Kayla frowned. Which direction? What did that have to do with anything? This old man was crazy. Nice, but crazy. The sooner the bus took him away from her, the better.
“Which direction were you facing?” he asked again.
“I guess I was facing…” Kayla mentally retraced her steps leading to the dirt pile. “… west, I think.”
“I thought so.”
When he didn’t say anything else, she prodded, “Why? What difference does it make?”
“All the difference in the world. One way faces the light of the rising sun, the other side into darkness.”
“Well, yeah, the sun rises in the east, but so what?” She shrugged. “The sun also travels to the west.”
“But that’s the sunset, not sunrise.”
What’s so important about sunrise?”
“It’s the beginning.”
“And sunsets are the end?”
“Exactly.” The old man smiled with delight. “You got it.”
Kayla was more confused than ever. “I got what?”
Before he could answer, the bus pulled up with the loud pfsssst as the brake’s compressed air was let out. The smell of diesel fuel from the back of the bus blew over Kayla as the door opened. The man got up, gave Kayla a thumbs up, and began to climb the steps into the bus.
“Wait! I got what?” Kayla called after him. But he didn’t appear to hear her as he reached the top step and the bus doors closed with a hiss. The bus pulled away, leaving Kayla alone once more.
What did he mean about the east and the west being the beginning and the end? The beginning and the end of what? And what difference was it whether she faced the light coming from the east or not? She had to go west to get to the park, didn’t she? He had made that sound wrong somehow, almost like it was the cause of her fall. That was just crazy.
Stuffing the now filthy handkerchief into a side pocket of her backpack, she painfully got to her feet. It was time to finish her walk to the park. She took about three steps, and then stopped. Looking straight ahead, she took note of the shadows that filled the area in varying shades of blacks and grays. Although she could see where the light of the rising sun, still somewhat low in the sky at this early hour, penetrated the darkness, parts the sun hadn’t touched yet still laid in deep shadows. She turned around and squinted into the dazzling brightness of sun. The light was so bright she couldn’t see any shadows at all. It really was a world of difference. How had she not noticed this before? The sunlight was so inviting and uplifting that Kayla didn’t want to walk towards the darkness anymore. Yet walking towards the light presented some impossible obstacles. Her home was to the east, but between there and where she was now was that huge dirt pile she wouldn’t be able to get by easily if at all. And the park, where she was supposed to be going, was to the west. There was no way she could reach it by going east. So what should she do? Continue going west, further into darkness? Or turn around and go east, towards the light that was calling her?
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Tim 2:21)
And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. (Ez 11:23)
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)