by Kari Diane Pike
The gentle sound of doves calling slipped through my fading dream and tapped on my adrenal glands. My eyes flew open and I heard myself make that sound you make when you suck in all the oxygen in the room at once. My feet hit the floor with a thud as I flew out of bed, threw on my robe and ran down the hall pounding on the children's bedroom doors as I went.
"Rise and shine! It's late! Hurry up! Seminary starts in fifteen minutes!"
I threw cups and bowls, cereal boxes, a jug of milk, and a pitcher of juice onto the kitchen table. I grabbed lunch sacks and juice boxes out of the pantry, slapped peanut butter and strawberry freezer jam on thick slices of bread, put it in baggies, and tossed yogurt cups and spoons along with the sandwiches and juice into the bags. Prayer, a few short verses of scripture while the kids wolfed down their cereal, and my daughter and I sprinted out the door in a flurry of back packs and hi-tech track shoes. My stomach stayed tied in knots as I watched that daughter walk through the Church doors to seminary. I had just enough time to get back home and put the next child on the bus to school. I dreaded the thought that I would be trying to catch up with myself for the rest of the day.
I pulled out of the church parking lot and forced myself to ease my foot up off the gas pedal. Getting a ticket would not improve my day. I took a deep breath and expelled it slowly as I looked ahead to the stoplight and tried to adjust my speed in order to meet a green light. A green pick-up truck ahead of me swerved slightly to the left. My eyes automatically looked at the road to the right to see what the truck managed to avoid. A young, dark-haired boy knelt at the side of the road next to his fallen bicycle, frantically trying to gather the scattered cards and playing pieces of a board game. As I drove closer, I could see the fear and frustration on the boy's face. I pulled over and jumped out to see if I could help.
"Are you OK?" I asked, looking over at him as I reached down to pick up several of the small yellow plastic pieces strewn across the pavement.
The boy hesitated a moment before answering. His body tensed and I could see his thoughts in his eyes. I'm not supposed to talk to strangers. But I really need help. I'm scared. But I really want help. She looks like a mom. Maybe it's going to be OK. He took a deep breath and sighed heavily.
"Yeah. I'm OK. I fall down a lot."
"You fall down a lot?"
"Yeah. I'm used to it."
"Hmmm, I guess it's kind of a kid thing, huh."
He looked up at me and shrugged. He visibly relaxed, despite the fact that cars continued to speed past us...much faster than the posted 25 miles per hour. "Too bad the game was too big to fit in my back pack. It started slipping and I couldn't go fast enough to keep from falling."
A moment later, a small white car pulled up behind my van. One of the boy's teachers got out and greeted us and offered to take the game to the school while the boy completed the journey on his bike. I handed her the tattered, but put together game box. The boy stood up and brushed the last bits of rock and dust from the palms of his hands. He smiled a big toothy grin and his chocolate brown eyes lit up as he mounted the two-wheeler and waved at me.
"Thanks for helping me!"
I waved back as I opened the van door, climbed into the driver's seat, and headed home. I stopped at the red light and an unexpected wave of emotion tumbled over me. Why didn't any of the other drivers stop to help the boy? They didn't even slow down. Tears flooded my eyes and washed down my cheeks. What was this feeling? Why all the tears? I felt, rather than heard the sweet words of comfort that formed in answer.
"When we serve, we create something bigger than ourselves."
I no longer felt the need to rush around to catch up with myself. I let the tears flow and felt the love and light that filled my entire being. I thought about the many other children, big and small, who feel alone and frightened, not knowing who to trust or wondering if any one will ever care. I wondered how Heavenly Father must feel when he puts us in the path of someone in need...and we just pass them by. How sad that must be for Him to watch us miss the opportunity to create that joy and love that comes with service. I'll probably never know the name of the little boy I learned from that day, but he's no longer a stranger to me. He's my little brother. That little act of service, meager as it was, created a bond between us...the bond of love.