This morning I planned to post a poem I’ve been working on for a while, about the brokenness of the human condition and the need for mending.

But the poem was stubborn; it wouldn’t allow itself to be finished. I ran out of time. A colleague came to pick me up for a meeting and we left early to beat traffic.

From the outset we encountered detours, one of which providentially took us by McDonald’s to grab a coffee. Liquid stamina.

There in the drive-through, between paying and receiving the order, my colleague and I watched a man pull into a parking place. He got out and opened the trunk of his car…

There wasn’t time to wonder, really, what he might be pulling out of that trunk, or for what purpose. He could have planned an act of destruction; isn’t that where our brains go first, nowadays?

I watched intently, not believing what I saw: The man took out a large bag. He shook it in a corner of the parking lot, by a curb and a tangle of trees.

Out of the brush ran a cat, followed by another.

To eat the food the man brought for them, from the bag he carried in his car.

Mission accomplished, the man returned the bag to his trunk and headed into McDonald’s for his own breakfast.

My colleague, a diehard cat-lover, took time to run in and thank this man. He laughed. “I do this everywhere I go. People either love me or hate me.”

It wasn’t a stop we planned to make, on a detour we hadn’t planned to take. This isn’t the piece on broken humanity I planned to post this morning.

Instead, the detour provided a glimpse of human compassion. A taste of the milk of human kindness.

Or, in this case, the cat food of human kindness.

If we can feel this for homeless cats, we can feel it for one other.

Meaning we’re not so broken. Not yet.

Sometimes a detour is about more than steering around a problem.

Sometimes it’s an opportunity to be fed.

Sometimes detours are a taste of the divine.

11 thoughts on “Detour

  1. I would have thanked him, too! I keep dog treats in my car to hand out to homeless people with dogs, but I hadn’t thought of carrying cat food! Such a sweet post. I love your last three lines, reflecting on the possibilities of detours 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I love this. It is a story of hope for our world. I am so glad you spoke to him and thanked him. Very often, we do not do that but I sounds like it meant something to him that you did. Sometimes, life has it’s own way of showing us there is still hope. I’m glad you got detoured. It made for a nice post!

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  3. “Some detours are a taste of the divine.” When I’m out walking, I see a woman who feeds the neighborhood cats as she walks. As the man said, some people love her and some hate her. To me, she is sharing her gentle heart, but to others she is littering the walk and enticing cats to multiply. I’d rather be someone who sees the kindness.

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  4. I am in the odd position of defending our country to my ex-pat daughter, whose newsfeed while abroad is filled with stories of American vitriol and doom. I have to remind her that there are wonderful people and acts of kindness and progressive movements working for the betterment of all in our country. Yes, the news can be real, but yes, goodness can still be found, and therefore, hope. Thanks for your report of a moment of kindness.

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    • “Vitriol” is an apt word for today; there’s a lot of loud and harsh voices in our country, although not confined to it. I can only imagine the spin on it, globally, and what an expatriate would feel. So many layers of emotion for us all. I decided, when I started this blog, that I wanted to write to uplift as there’s so much tearing down out there. The good, the powerful, the meaningful, be found if we look for it. Thank you for this compelling, reflective response, Chris. Courage and grace to you and to your ex-pat daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

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