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February 15, 2008

Too Busy to Wave?



There is a person in our neighborhood that defies and therefore defines our hustle-bustle culture. He is seen during my normal driving route that takes my son to and from school.

I call him Waving Man.

He is a tall man in his late 30s. Judging by the expression that is always on his face, he was born with an IQ that falls short of society's acceptable standards. His behavior also reveals that he is different. He stands on the street and waves. He waves at the cars that go by. He stands in the same place, next to the mailbox just outside the house in which he lives, usually wearing a shirt with evidence of spilled food just under his chin. He stands there in the fall and when it snows. I have even seen him standing in the rain. Always waving. The first few times I saw him I thought he was selling firewood. Then after seeing him a hundred times I decided he just likes to wave.

Typically, traffic would whiz right by him but today the traffic was bogged down and going slow enough for passing drivers to see him. About three cars ahead of me I noticed something. I saw the driver wave back at the man. Two cars ahead of me, same thing. One car ahead of mine, the woman waved.

I waved.

Waving Man keeps waving and waving. To him it is a constant thing, and I don't know if it really affects him if he sees others waving back because it doesn't show on his face.

But it felt good to wave back. Like waving was some great and scandalous act of kindness or at the very least an act of tolerance. I have seen him so many times before that I can gauge my character by my reaction to him on a given day. I don't always wave. Sometimes I whizz by in a rush allowing the stress of the upcoming day take hold with thoughts about all the important things I have to do and, Why is he out there anyway - he must be stupid, running through my head. Nice.

And then I would be forced to react at my own internal behavior, reflect and recalibrate. Some days I think about the man and ponder why he waves. Some days I fly right by like so many others, knowing he is there but not wanting to be bothered.

Today I waved.

There are probably several people in my life who have done some important thing or another for me or on my behalf only to be lost from my memory now. In contrast I will always remember Waving Man. Maybe it is only the simple repetition, but profound things can be simple too. Was God's divine assignment for this man to wave? Of all the things that our society would hope for a person, accomplishment, success, or at the very least a clean shirt, this man gets to wave. But there is something in his wave that challenges the constant drone of the daily demands that we place on ourselves. Does the uniqueness of that act alone make it some sort of cosmic conduit that connects us to God because we are forced to reflect? Like a life preserver thrown out in a sea of hurry, stress, ambition, and guilt to allow us to grab hold of a moment that is peaceful, transcend the chaos, Waving Man waves.

I think it is interesting that every time I see Waving Man I think of Jesus.

And sometimes I wave back.

Comments

Waving is an interesting thing. I have neighbors that I wave to whenever I am outside and they are driving by, some wave back and some consistently ignore me. What is it about a wave that causes us to either open up or shut down completely? I think it is like you said, it puts a spotlight on our character at any given time. It makes us feel exposed. Perhaps the friendly wave of someone brings about feelings of lonliness and rejection that we have not yet dealt with. Perhaps the purpose of waving and Waving Man is to point us to Jesus and to bring us to recognize the love and acceptance that he brought into our lives. This is certainly something to ponder further!

Did it ever occur to you to stop and ask him why he was waving? Maybe it was because he want to put a smile on peoples faces. Or to let some one know that they were important, if only to him. Maybe he just wanted someone to smile and wave back at him. But without asking him, no one will ever know. It kind of says to me - The Waving Man is like our Heavenly Father, waving at us to get out attention - in all kinds of weather - but we are too busy to notice or wave back. So we miss so much. He is always there waiting for us to listen. Our Heavenly Father sends all sorts of Angels to get our attention, but we just have to take time to look. Remember when you wave all our fingers are pointing up to the heavens.

I love your thought that God's divine assignment for this man was to wave. I have a good friend whose son is severely disabled, but he loves to smile. She calls him her "happy boy" and says it lifts her spirits to see him (mine too). It's great to think that God created him to smile.

I had a girlfriend tell me about her internal tension over an encounter with a man holding a sign at a busy intersection - asking for money. She told me of her dialogue with God as she sat uncomfortably at the light: "Is this you, Jesus? Is this a person to whom I am to offer drink, food, even money and, in the process, be ministering to you?" It's a familiar and painful place. Will I see? Will I respond? Will I love?

You have kindly and graciously waved at me Blair, drawing me necessarily out of myself to see beyond my own limited range of vision, beyond my own self-centered thoughts, beyond my own comfort and convenience. Thank you.

Deb, JoHannah, Ronna, Thank you so much for your comments. Sylvia, It's funny but I honestly never considered asking him why he waved. Partly because of the logistics of driving by (and having to park and get out), but probably because I truly thought he wouldn't have an answer. A poor assumption on my part and possibly a missed opportunity to gain and give something more. There are so many things like this in life aren't there? How much do we miss when we are in a hurry?

I am interested in this program beacause I am a career woman ,active at church and also a wife and mother inforamtion will be greatly appreciated for my improvement.

Last Sunday 2/17 The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotte.com/arts/story/497067.html had a human interest story with pictures of a man who sits on his porch every day and waves to all the people. The reporter told his story but he didn't want his name to be given. Maybe this will give you some insights into the man you see wave!

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