Sunday May 31st 2009, 8:15 am
Filed under: Life

(Added note 8 pm: Don is back in the hospital. Tests are coming up.)

I’m going to move the p.s. up here so it doesn’t distract. Right after my last and most serious accident, for those who may someday need to know this, a doctor told me to keep moving, gently and while consciously relaxing, all day. Do not take a nap.  Do not allow the muscles to tense up. Keep moving. Keep relaxing.

He was right. I was hit hard enough to have a head injury for life, but there was very little whiplash effect to the rest of me, which quite surprised me.

Okay, on with the post.

Afton sent me an email about mitzvahs, and the story that instantly came to mind after reading hers of something someone had done for her was this one.  I saw this man for maybe 60 seconds out of my entire life:

“Mrs. Hyde–you got rear-ended AGAIN?”

When the guy at the dealer’s bodyshop recognizes your voice…  And this was before my big accident, where my car was totalled from behind by a speeder and thrown into another one. So.

I made an appointment for an estimate and set out. Coming off the freeway at Stevens Creek, there was a homeless couple holding up cardboard signs. My light was red; I had a moment.

Back then, we kept MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) in our car all the time.  This was not long after the 7.1 Loma Prieta aka The Pretty Big One. We’d bought two cases as emergency earthquake food supplies and kept some in the car. You never know where you’ll be.

I rolled down my window and reached back to the pocket behind the passenger seat, and as I did so, the whiplashing I’d gotten suddenly distorted my face as I tried not to groan. I got the MREs, I don’t remember how many, and held them out to the man, who by then had come near my car for his handout.

As it went from my hand to his there was something absolutely electrical that passed between us.  It took me a breath to comprehend: he had seen the pain in my face, had seen me going through that willingly for him in order to take care of him, and in that moment it felt that God Himself was using that simple means to convey straight to the man’s heart that he was Loved in this world.

And to his credit, he was able to receive that.

I will never forget him. That great healing went both ways. He had made it worth what I was having to go through.  He had allowed it to be turned into a moment of pure Grace.  And I knew I, in turn, had to forgive the man who’d eyeballed me and then deliberately rammed my car in a moment of road rage.

It was lifechanging.

What are your mitzvah stories?

19 Comments so far
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I was sitting on a park bench in city hall park with a friend having a bite to eat from a local vending cart. We had many shopping bags with us when it suddenly started to pour. We ran for cover across the road to an awning. I suddenly realized I had my purchases but not my handbag. Ok, keys in pocket, I could still get home. But my handbag contained cash, checkbook and my glasses. The park, known for many homeless people walking through, certainly could use whatever was in the bag…but my glasses!!! Would they abuse my credit card?

I decided to wait about 1 hr. and went to the police station to see if anyone, by chance, had turned in my bag. Yes, a homeless man had walked several blocks to turn it in intact!!! The policeman said I was lucky!

Thank you, God! Bless this man with whatever wealth he may need whether it be good health, good friends, good food, free from worries, etc.

Comment by Joansie 05.31.09 @ 10:17 am

Phoenix, AZ. On our honeymoon. We’d stopped at a Jack in the Box for a breakfast on the run as we headed to Sedona. A very dirty, smelly man was behind us. After I ordered, but before the Knight could pay, I was suddenly overcome with the NEED to buy him a meal. We did, and the look in his eyes made it clear to me that I’d been allowed a moment of Grace through him. There had been MUCH drama and heartbreak surrounding our wedding, so that made this moment all the more powerful.

Comment by Channon 05.31.09 @ 11:31 am

I’m reminded of the time God put us in someone else’s way. We were driving north to Shreveport, LA, along I-49, a route we had driven frequently enough to have down to a routine. Suddenly, DH put the signal on to exit. We’d never gotten off at that exit before – I didn’t even know what was there. He said “I have to get off here!” OK, there should be some sort of gas station there.

As we drove up to park, I spotted a man from our home town, talking on a cell phone. It seemed his transmission had died on his way to Shreveport. He was calling to see if someone could come get him.
We took him on to the meeting we were both planning to attend, then brought him back home at the end of the day. His son drove up with a car trailer to pick up the car with the dead transmission. We saw it being towed home on our way back – just a chance glance again – hey, isn’t that your car? So we knew, even then, that everything was working out.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 05.31.09 @ 12:51 pm

Thank you Alison, we need to remember our mitzvah’s- those given, those received – healing our torn and soiled spirits, burnishing them to they glow with G-d’s love.

Whewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, I think I’m reviving up for another D’var Torah here, don’t you. 🙂

Comment by Afton 05.31.09 @ 2:15 pm

You know I am not going to tell any drastic ones, also I do have some. But I think the most memorable was the trip to Israel two years ago. One of it’s goals was to see my FIL and to introduce my then 5 kids to him. My FIL has been sick for many years and totally paralyzed for the last 15 years of his life. He could only move his eyes. I am very happy we did it despite the financial hardship , despite relatives telling us that he will not know who my DH is. At that point my DH have not seen his Dad for over 10 years.
Well my FIL surprised everyone. When he saw my DH , his eyes got misty and then we saw tears rolling down his cheeks. A few month later, after being in the same condition for so many years he passed away suddenly. I am happy that they were able to meet once more.

Comment by Henya 05.31.09 @ 8:32 pm

For me, it’s the small mitzvahs that I’m lucky to receive regularly; someone holding open a door when I’m overloaded, getting something for me off of a high shelf in a store, or is kind enough to direct me when I feel hopelessly lost.

The one big mitzvah that stands out for me – isn’t it funny that they all seem to revolve around hospitals? – is when I nearly lost Andrew to an appendix gone bad.

Colleen came over while I was at the hospital and filled my fridge with food I could just take out, microwave, and eat. Nutritious food, not the full-of-preservatives-and-taste-like-the-packaging stuff.

Mom came and sat with Andrew during the hours I couldn’t be with him.

Andrew’s boss even came to the house to drop off his paperwork so that I didn’t have to drive out for it. Kindness all around.

Comment by Jasmin 05.31.09 @ 10:50 pm

When we had our girls, one couple of our friends came to the hospital durng that 3 weeks more than anyothers. We were exstactic to here earlier this year that they were expecting & due in June. Well their little boy decided he couldn’t wait that long. He came 2 months early. He weighed almost exactly what two of our girls had. They told us that they felt grateful for the NICU experience they had had with us. Sometimes the biggest blessings come in the smallest packages:)

Prayers to Don for a speedy recovery.

Comment by TripletMom 05.31.09 @ 11:30 pm

A few years ago as I was walking home (here in Coleraine Northern Ireland) I walked past a young, very heavily pregnant Muslim woman sitting on the ground near her house, sobbing hysterically while a man her age was shouting furiously at her in a language I didn’t understand. I kept walking, and then turned around, walked over to her and asked her softly, simply and directly “Are you okay?” She didn’t say a word, just stared at me stunned. The man explained calmly he was her brother and said something about it being about her husband, all the while she stared at me. I nodded and not knowing what else to say said to her “I hope you feel better soon.” Not long after, she saw me when I walked past her house again, and we chatted. Her name was Sakina, she worked as a French translator in Belfast… a few weeks later her son Sami was born and I got to meet him and deliver a card. I was happy I stopped and also glad I didn’t yell at the guy to stop screaming at a pregnant woman. I also wonder if the fact that it was an American who stopped and took the time to inquire about her well-being might have left a positive impression.

Comment by LynnM 06.01.09 @ 7:09 am

Alison, also please relay my best wishes to Don. Hope my card gets to him by his birthday tomorrow. And it’s nice that his son can take him some cake!

Comment by LynnM 06.01.09 @ 7:13 am

We were coming home from my father-in-law’s funeral, from Utah to WA state, along the Columbia River when our car got the severe shakes just as we had passed an exit. We prayed, clenched up with worry, and nursed it along to the next exit, where there was a park along the river. We rattled along to the parking area, pulled over in relief and looked around–long narrow strip of park, nothing visible in terms of building, phone, etc. We found an older couple sitting on the grass and asked if there was a telephone anywhere nearby (this was 11 years ago, cell phones were not common) and they said no. They had come to this park, as they often did, and had had their lunch, let their dog run, and were ready to go home, but just didn’t go. For no particular reason, just didn’t feel inclined. The gentleman stuck out his hand to Bill, said, “I believe we were told to stay,” and suggested where we could stay the night, and where we should take the car, and he took us to that motel and left Bill to wait for a tow truck. They came back to the motel a couple of hours later, found that Bill was not arrived yet, and drove back out to check on him. The first call had apparently not come through to the tow company. We had broken a spindle, had to rent a car to get home the next morning (4 hours away), bring it back in a couple of days when our car was done, and we all made it through. Oh, they also were of the opinion that the service garage we had seen at the previous exit, just passed by seconds too late when trouble hit, was not an honest place and that getting there would not have been a good thing.

“I believe we were told to stay.” What could have been a tragedy, had the spindle broken and separated completely on the freeway, and a misery, stranded for hours, was protected on the road and provided for off the road by the Lord and a pair of good people.


Comment by Marian Stoddard 06.01.09 @ 9:31 am

Thank you, friends, for your concern. I’m home again, and will say more on my blog.

As to mitzvahs, when I was sent home from the hospital the first time, my doctor ordered a prescription of a pain medication,that as side effect, causes constipation. Saturday morning I awoke in pain. The Rx was not doing the job. Called the on-call doctor who suggested adding Advil. Drove to the pharmacy, unloaded my scooter, and realized I needed a bathroom FAST. The clerk up front headed me in the wrong direction, and it wasn’t until a shriveled up little old lady saw me, got me to the right place, held the door open for me, and then after I’d relieved myself, got me paper towels, and once again held the heavy door for me. After my purchase, I was again putting the scooter in the van, when she saw me and asked if I needed any help. Never go by appearances.

Comment by Don Meyer 06.01.09 @ 12:16 pm

I have so many blessings, there are enough for a book, but the one that just keeps in giving is my relationship with my husband, Oscar. When we met, we had big plans to hike the Appalachian trail, go mountaineering, and travel the world. Life happened, and I am mostly confined to my wheelchair these days. He has helped us find new adventures, and his love has never wavered, except to grow.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 06.01.09 @ 6:40 pm

And adding, all good wishes and hopes for Don.
We miss ya big guy.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 06.01.09 @ 6:45 pm

I am so very sorry to have to admit that I never learned what a mitzvah is, what the word means. I am admitting this in public here so I can be enlightened by someone, please.

I know that my life and others’ has been saved many times over when I defintitely should have died.

A life changing moment was when my dear friend Victoria passed away from cancer 4 years ago at the age of 44 and she allowed me to be one of the few people who cared for her till the end and witness her passing.

My best wishes to Don!

Comment by karin 06.01.09 @ 7:09 pm

A mitzvah is a praiseworthy deed done to make the world a better place.

Comment by AlisonH 06.01.09 @ 7:14 pm

Well, I’ll answer because I’m the Afton she is referring to! A mitzvah actually means an act of charity in Hebrew (or maybe Yiddish – which isn’t the same but I get confused with word origins sometimes. ANYWAY…)However, it has come to mean a blessing in the general parlance in America. There are seven levels of charity, of which the highest is to give a person a chance to do something for themselves (such as employment)but right up there is doing a deed in such a way that the recipent doesn’t know where it came from and the giver doesn’t know who received it (such as working for the Red Cross, I imagine.) It goes down to giving grudingly. Anyone else give a better descrpiton?

Comment by Afton 06.01.09 @ 7:16 pm

I forgot to add (beside the fact that I can’t spell, I’m noticing) a mitzvah is more than an act of charity, it’s a duty.

Comment by Afton 06.01.09 @ 7:23 pm

Rachel Remen, a local doctor whose grandfather was a rabbi, has some discussion of the subject in her book “My Grandfather’s Blessings.” That and her “Kitchen Table Wisdom” are two of my all-time favorite books.

Comment by AlisonH 06.01.09 @ 7:50 pm

Alison, As you can see I’m revisiting an old post to see the additional comments. Would you forward this review to any of your friends who might enjoy considering the subject of mitzvahs as illustrated in a funny blockbuster movie? Depending on personal tastes, some may not enjoy the movie. .

Comment by LynnM 06.02.09 @ 7:29 am

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