Posted by: pendrops | December 19, 2006

red stoplight


I sat at the stoplight, flipping between jazzy Christmas favorites, progressive rock tunes and NPR news. As the light lingered on red, I thought about lunch, checked my Christmas list, and examined my pitiful cuticles. I need a manicure, I thought as I glanced up to see if the light had turned. No green yet, but I saw something better.

A young blond-haired man in a gray suit and tie had jumped out of the passenger side of a friend’s car and was handing his business card to a shocked woman in a black, diesel-guzzling 4×4 Bronco.

I never heard what he said, but I knew what was happening: he was asking her out. He smiled as he hopped back in the car and her face beamed as I drove by. Her hands covered her mouth and her eyes danced at this stranger’s spontaneous move on her behalf.

She wasn’t Hollywood glamorous or model gorgeous, but she certainly wasn’t a fit for the mud-splattered vehicle that dwarfed her. She had simple, pretty features and this guy had found her so instantly attractive that all he knew to do was ask if he could call her, maybe meet her for dinner somewhere, see what she’s doing New Year’s Eve.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the two as I drove home. I imagine that the adrenaline is still coursing through both of their blood streams and that they’ll tell co-workers and close friends about it all afternoon. I bet they’re also filled with some spark of hope in a deep down place that defends against it.

Hope is a scary thing. Everything around us tells us not to hope. Hospitals that can’t heal, wars that don’t end, bonds that won’t mend. But today I tasted a bit of hope at the intersection of Mack Hatcher and Franklin Road.

Hope because, for all our careful plotting, calculation and day-timing, people still make choices based on whimsy, on the moment. Hope because, in the midst of cruelty and brokenness, people still pull the guards down from the fortresses of their hearts and risk rejection and coldness.

Hope because Beauty, Bravery and Love still show up in ordinary places and remind us that, for all the ugliness in earth and man, they live here, too.



  1. how awesome! this just makes me smile. 🙂 maybe i should hang out at gas stations more…

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