Jesus’ life was bookended by the kindness of strangers.
At the beginning: innkeepers giving the pregnant Mary shelter,
a place for newborn Jesus to rest his head.
And at the end of a terrible Friday,
Joseph of Arimathea bearing the lifeless body of Christ
to a cold dark place of rest.
Before Jesus’ first breath, and after his last one,
at the gateways of life and death,
acts of kindness.
What to do, then, about the man in the gray car
tailgating me today in heavy traffic,
his words of rage spewing like exhaust
out of his open window as he blows by.
Instantly my anger rises to meet his.
I examine myself and find him entirely guilty.
Righteously angry I almost hope to find him
sidelined by a police cruiser,
or even wrecked on the side of the road,
reaping the rewards of his recklessness.
Kindness bookended the pages of Jesus’ life.
He embodied it with every breath.
his hands grasping the grimy hands of children,
his ear tuned to the growling stomachs of the masses,
his feet walking with the lepers stride for stride,
his voice reaching into the open tomb of Lazaurs
summoning him from the dead.
Jesus even has kind words for that betrayer Judas;
he greets him in the garden as “Friend.”
Heading towards the highway,
the man in the gray car troubles my thoughts.
Why was he so angry at nothing?
Where was he going?
What was he on his way to do?
How does he live with such rage?
Who in the world does he live with?
Even these casual questions call to mind
my own unjustified anger,
my own irrational moments,
my own lashing out.
Jesus met thoughtless angry people again and again
and showed that all roads lead to grace,
if you want to go there.
Every encounter a vehicle for kindness.
Like Jesus, most of our lives
are bookended by kindness too.
Someone gave birth to us, thank God,
and someone will bury us in the end.
Kindness coming and going.
We choose what’s in the middle.
Entering the highway,
I roll down the window,
I scoop the rushing wind with my hand
and whisper a prayer
through the open window
for the man in the gray car.