Just a week ago, I was in a Seattle apartment icing a painful bruise to my shin bone, barely able to walk, certainly unable to do the sightseeing I’d planned for that one day of sunshine forecast during our visit. I was streetless in Seattle and thoroughly bummed. Yesterday, I was icing my healing shin after walking a 5K. What a difference a week can make!
But last Saturday, I was lamenting what a difference a day can make — or a mere moment, actually. My husband and I had arrived in Seattle via plane, then Central Link light rail, arriving in a strange place a mere two blocks from our final destination well after 9 o’clock at night. My GPS wouldn’t work while in the light rail tunnel, and so I couldn’t use it to determine our direction until we emerged from the station — where we were greeted with a cloud of marijuana smoke and a crowd of homeless, some sleeping and some greeting us with signs or verbal pleas for cash.
It was not the greeting I wanted or expected, and I can’t say my first impression of Seattle was a particularly good one. With a wheeled suitcase firmly grasped in each hand, a large purse slung over my shoulder, and my phone brightly lit with Google maps, I frantically found our way away from our greeters toward what I hoped was our apartment building for the week. It was not my finest moment, and I’m fairly certain my facial expression would have put off anyone who had intentions to harm us. It certainly affected my husband, who said I needed something for my anxiety issues. (I don’t know, maybe a taxi?) But we eventually made it into my sister-in-law’s rental, where we were staying for the long weekend of wedding festivities.
The following days were a mix of nightmare and dream vacation — getting lost or finding something delightful in this crowded city. (The people in Seattle are so friendly they even conversed with us, perfect strangers, in elevators!) Since we were busy with my sister-in-law’s preparations for the rehearsal dinner, our sightseeing in this city new to us included only brief glimpses of what we might like to see or do or buy — with the intent of spending sunny Saturday actually doing those things. But as we left the rehearsal dinner Friday night, attempting to get into an Uber SUV taxi outside the restaurant, I slipped, fell on my shin bone, and iced my chances of seeing Seattle.
Instead of walking the streets and taking the tours, I was couch-bound, icing my bruised shin and hopes for the day. I thought of the Proverb that says not to boast about tomorrow, because you don’t know what the day will bring (27:1). I thought of the phrase “carpe diem” and wished I had seized the previous day to experience more of Seattle. And I thought of James’ suggestion that we include the phrase “if the Lord wills” before our “we will do such and such” (James 4:13-17). Was this a lesson I needed to learn? Certainly, I regretted not taking time the day before to do some sightseeing, though on reflection, I saw no real opportunity. What plagued me more was my entrance into the taxi, trying to consider how I might have avoided slipping and falling. That moment made the difference.
But as I sat on the couch a week ago, worrying and feeling sorry for myself, I got to see my husband in a different light. He was doing what I could not do — serving me and others, cooking and cleaning. And because the wedding was that evening and I couldn’t wear my high heels, he offered to shop for a pair of appropriate flats, braving downtown Seattle’s Macy’s shoe department on a Saturday afternoon. While he came back utterly flabbergasted by this shopping experience — and empty handed — I was thoroughly touched by his willingness to go so far out of his comfort zone to minister to me.
In reality, I don’t know if I learned anything about “seizing the day” or that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed — or even how to enter the back seat of an SUV taxi more carefully. But I did learn a lot more about my husband’s love for me (and his abilities in the kitchen!). I also learned to trust God in situations that aren’t going as planned, that sightseeing isn’t as important as just really seeing, that people are more important than places… and that I may just have to plan another trip to Seattle during sunny July.