Beth Ann was driving to work one morning. The traffic was terrible and she was running late—again! She had just dropped off her two little ones at school. They barely made it in time. She had an argument with her boyfriend that morning too, which set the tone for the day. This was becoming an almost daily occurrence. The argument this time was over something so silly that she already forgot what it was about.
Now, because she was running late for work, she was trying to drive and text at the same time. She wanted to get a hold of her co-worker to let him know to start the meeting without her. She would be there as soon as she could.
Beth Ann saw that she was coming to a light so she figured she could get this text out. Well, she took her eyes off the road a little too soon and banged into the car ahead of her. The front of her car was dented as was the trunk of the other car! She started to cry. She really felt as if she were at the breaking point. It just seemed her life was spinning out of control.
They pulled over to the side and the driver of the other car got out. Of all things, it was a priest (or at least that was how he was dressed!). And Beth Ann thought to herself, “Why is everything so complicated? Why couldn’t I have been involved in a fender-bender with a normal person?”
She went over to him and apologized, stumbling over her words trying to explain what had happened. She was visibly upset, and the older priest couldn’t help but notice this. He tried to calm her down and assure her that everything would be fine—no one was hurt, and it looked like there wasn’t too much damage.
It was exceptionally cold and windy that morning and there happened to be a coffee shop on the corner. The priest suggested that they wait in there for the police to arrive. While in the shop, the priest again asked if Beth Ann was OK. She said unconvincingly that she was, but then just blurted out: “Father, everything in my life is going wrong.”
Humanly speaking, Beth Ann was not exaggerating. Her boyfriend, who had moved in with her a year ago, was becoming difficult to live with. Her two children from her previous marriage were still struggling in school and seemed too quiet and sad when at home. She thought that they were having a hard time with her divorce. Her Ex was sending her letters through a lawyer about custody issues, and Beth Ann needed to get out of the apartment she was in. But the thing that bothered her most was that she hadn’t spoken to her father in over three years.
The priest was silent for a moment and then said to her that first of all, she had to forgive her father. The Lord would have to take care of the rest. But in his opinion God’s call was clear: Forgive your father.
As Beth Ann was driving to work she was thinking about that conversation—one of the strangest in her life; and she couldn’t explain why she just blurted out all her problems to this person. She didn’t even go to church all that much anymore. Yet somehow she knew this kind old priest was on to something. She would have to give serious consideration to what he suggested And, for some reason she felt calmer than she had in a long time.
The woman at the well and Beth Ann may have a lot in common. And there was the encounter in both cases that helped each of these women come face to face with themselves—perhaps for the first time. The encounter with Jesus brought this about.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with all of our problems. Father Jacques Philippe wrote: “I have often observed that people in difficult situations who come to terms with their inability to understand everything and begin to ask what God wants of them here and now receive enlightenment little by little.”
This is great wisdom. The Samaritan woman was given a way out as a result of her encounter with Christ. So was the character in the story after her strange conversation with the old priest. Sometimes we can feel at peace when we receive the grace to understand what the first step is.
So, let me leave you with this: If people know what they must do today and commit themselves to doing it, and leave tomorrow to God’s providence, all is well. What more can anyone do? Take the step that needs taking today. Take another step tomorrow. Every day will have its own steps to take.