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Was that You, Lord, in the Purple Coat?Marita Walton

by  Marita Walton

November 2013


To you O Lord, I lift my soul. Show me your paths and teach me to follow; guide me by your truth and instruct me.

-- Psalm 25:1 & 4 --


She wore purple with a red cap shielding her from the rain. Robed in purple, topped with crimson: a royal image, I recalled.


She hobbled clutching her cane in her right hand, pushing a three-wheeled cart with her left, wobbling upright with each step, with her bag swinging as a pendulum from the elbow. She looked right at home leaving the bus station or making her way through an airport terminal but not here – not in my part of town. I waited at the light as she crossed.


We say we are mindful of your Presence among us, Lord, but are we really? We usually see what we expect to see while on our way to work on a busy morning. Predictable routines leave little time for unexpected sightings of glory.


Then again, you show up at unexpected places. I heard myself ask aloud to no one present, “Was that you, Lord?”


She caught my eye, but did I stop to see if I could help? No. She was a stranger, and I was on my way to somewhere else.


Aren't we always on the way to somewhere else when you break through our day and beckon for our attention? We need you to make it clear, Lord, if we are to step aside and see a great sight. I have this rule, you see, a rule that I do not pick up strangers. I'm afraid of taking them into my car for some perfectly good reasons you would understand. But sometimes we need to set aside our closely-held rules, else we just go on about our business, living by our own rules – kind of like I just did today when I saw her brown skin glistening wet from the morning rain on her purple coat.


This mental conversation filled the space of a glimpse, just the time it takes for the light to glow red then green. But a glimpse is all we have sometimes, is it not?


Just a brush with glory. A brief visitation.


A few seconds should be enough when we walk closely enough with you to recognize when you have a task for us to relieve suffering, to lighten another's load. But we can be so encumbered with our own cares as I was this morning that we cannot see another's.


And I was strongly impressed with the reminder to look for you in the faces of the hurting, the aged, the lonely, the foreigner among us. The glimpse this morning turned me inside out. My little sadness about other concerns vanished in a breath – as I asked aloud, “Was that you, Lord?"


You give us our next breath, and you take it away. You take it away with beauty, nature and music, and you take it away with pain. And in that split second when we inhale silently and take in the sight before us, you remind us you are present. God with us.


So, yes, perhaps that was you, Lord, not transfigured at all but mysteriously present in the realigning of my thoughts and the shuffling of my priorities so that I might see more fully those around me.


Later that day a friend told me of about an auto accident he witnessed. An ambulance’s flashing lights held cars at bay as an upturned cart sat spinning silently at the edge of the road. I wondered if this was the cart, the woman, I had seen that morning. But I was on my way to somewhere else.


On the way to somewhere else: that’s where much of life happens. On the way to somewhere else: Lord Jesus, that’s when you did and do some of your most wonderful work (such as the healing of the woman on your way to restore the daughter of Jairus to life in Mark 5).


Lord, speak to our hearts. Interrupt our days of ordinary sights and sounds so that we do not miss an opportunity to see you and serve. Like the psalmist, we lift up our souls to you. Help us to see your path. Teach us how to follow you in ways that impact our neighbors near and far. Guide us into your truth in the midst of the distractions of good intentions and busy lifestyles.


 Marita Pace Walton first sensed the call to write during weekly small group meetings decades ago in Memphis, TN. She resisted the promptings quite well until 2005, coinciding with Hurricane Katrina, when writing emerged as a deep desire and means of encouraging others. Marita has practiced as an attorney, worked in college admissions, taught in various volunteer capacities, and now works in a family retail business in Jackson, MS. She and her husband are grateful for three adult children and one granddaughter.


A Word From James 

Marita’s honest reflection reminds me of a powerful question and statement in Scripture. “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) and “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Is there a way FollowOne can help you, your children and your church take new steps in response to God’s call to serve lost and hurting people? 


Cruciform Music — This Month's Featured Song

This month’s featured song is Mission's Flame by Matt Redman Watch and listen here or purchase the song online.


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