I met the Baal Shem Tov Today
Or: Clever and Kind
It was said that the Baal Shem Tov before he emerged and began to teach
was a crossing guard — he took students to and from the Study house.
A humble occupation but none more important: to protect kids on their way to and from School.
Today I was driving down Big Bend Boulevard. Big Bend Boulevard is four lanes
two each way the road so named because it once led to a big bend in the Meramec River.
It is a large road for a walking street. In front of me a bumped up car —
white what was left of the paint — the rear lights extinguished I believe
(they had tape all over them).
The man driving I saw his hand go up inside his car — lucky I was to see it at all
we were all traveling pretty fast down Big Bend Boulevard — he pulled up and stopped with his hand up in the air and I saw a duck and six, seven little ducklings following crossing that big road in the middle where there are no stops and this man pulled up short right in front of them so all the cars behind him had to stop, me first and then he did something clever in addition to kind:
He pulled over into the next lane as they entered it and barreling down that lane was a big truck it had to stop too and that man angled his car so the truck could not pass the duck momma and the little ducklings they made their way to the other side the ducklings so little they had to jump up to make the curb but they made the curb.
Not only did this man do a kind thing he did a clever thing and it’s that combination of clever and kind — If we were all clever and kind we would triumph over the other side and the unprotected would make their way and jump that curb to safety on the other side – I think so.
Now: was this a black man a white man was he going to a job did he need a job had he come onto hard times was he an immigrant man trying to figure out how to get by was he hustling to make a living was he looking for a break in a hard hard life could he not afford to fix that dent of a car he was driving?
It makes no difference to this story because I caught up with him and I know.
I told him I saw the whole drama and how lovely it was and I know the answers to the above questions but those pictures in your mind make no difference as they make no difference to me.
It makes no difference what kind of man he was other than he was a human being who on Monday, May 12, did something clever and kind and that is what it takes to make a difference in this way: be clever and kind.
I have been everything in this story: I have been that mamma duck I have been those babies vulnerable jumping the curb —
Today I was that man driving the car clever and kind I have also been that truck
traveling the road too too fast to slow down safely.
I am every part of this Story.