Friday, September 23, 2011

A Good Evening Gone Better

Thursday before 4pm wasn't a terrible day... but it could have gone better. My circumstances improved slowly during my time at work - by the end of the shift, I was able to relax and take care of work emails, I got permission to reward some workers who stayed late to finish a job, and I got an unexpected, satisfying free dinner!

After work, I hiked up the hill to the temple. It was too late for me to do my usual scripture study on the temple grounds, so I sang some church songs in my head to get in the right attitude for temple worship. After I got inside the gate and looked up at the temple, all lit up and white against the dark mountains and star-studded sky, I was impressed with feelings of comfort and peace, knowing I was about to enter the house of the Lord. Comfort and peace. It's my third week in making a habit of weekly temple attendance, and it's great how already it's starting to work in me a greater love for the temple and more humility and patience in trials. 

The baptistry was pretty busy when I arrived, but I ran into someone I knew from freshman year! We were in different social groups at the time, and I doubt we ever took time to get to know each other... But it was cool to see him, chat a bit in low tones, and get to know each other better... And laugh about the time his friend tried to kiss me as a joke (yeah, I wasn't gonna let that happen - I almost threw a cup of water on the kid). I did take some time while we were waiting to read from the scriptures and jot a couple notes in my journal. Afterwards, I got to talk to yet another friend in the locker room, which was fun; I love making and keeping friends, even if I don't get to see them as often as I used to. On my way home, I stopped by to visit an old roommate and her husband, and had a great time with them learning about physics and playing with laundry carts. I walked away from these pleasant encounters with an internal prayer of thanks for my life and the blessings I've been given.

Also on the way home I witnessed a 3-car crash, which was slightly traumatic, but very fortunately no one was hurt. The second part of the crash happened right in front of me, and the crash-ing car only had two wheels on the road for a very long second while her two right tires were on top of the crash-ee car. After the fear passed I was very glad for two things: 1) it could have been a lot worse, because I was afraid her car was going to roll, or that his car would be crushed and that 2) the curb was high enough to stop his car from crashing into me on the sidewalk. Something from this event that really struck me (I already said it wasn't a car, luckily) was the older gentleman's response to getting hit. He calmly got out his phone and called the police, and sat in his car for a few minutes while the girl who had swerved jumped out of her car, hands clasped over her mouth in shock, and asked him through the window if he was ok. I couldn't hear more of their dialogue, but he got out of his car, still on the phone, and just gave her a hug for a couple minutes to let her know it was ok and, presumably, to calm her. I talked to him a little bit while we were waiting for the police, and he wasn't angry or pointing fingers (which he could have easily done) - he was just glad that people were safe, his car could still run, and he said that sometimes things like this just happen. I appreciated his example of sensitivity and perspective.

After seeing the crash, I thought about requesting a quick comfort hug from one of my roommates when I got home, just as a reminder that our corner of the world is or will be ok. I didn't even make it up to my floor though; I recognized someone en route, and the Holy Spirit helped me recognize an opportunity to fill a need. So she and I sat together and talked for a while. She'd had a really rough week with health, school, friends (to an extent), emotions and work all working against her. I really didn't do a lot, mostly listened and let her know I was there for her, but we ended with a hug. My commitment to help her didn't end there, but the irony of the hugs reminded me that serving others is often the best way to fill our own needs. 

The moral of this story, I feel, is that what made a relatively average evening into a great evening was the little things. I was grateful for the free meal at work; I took a little time to think about the significance and importance of going to the temple; I cherished the time I spent with individuals; I took a little extra time to ingest, observe, and process the events with the car accident; I shifted my thoughts from myself to someone else's needs. Encouragement to do all of these things - virtues of gratitude, temperance, selflessness, love - are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Becoming a better disciple of Christ makes me a better person, and turns a good, ordinary life into a great life. 

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