Sometimes God thumps me on my forehead to let me know my swift judgments are not his swift judgments.
My husband Jim, daughter and son-in-law Emily and Cory Crile and granddaughters Lucy, 5, and Carly 2 (almost 3), went to “Zoolights,” a festival of lights at the Denver Zoo in Denver, Colo. It was the evening of Monday, Dec. 26. We were among a few thousand who all had the same idea for the evening’s entertainment.
The zoo encompasses 80 acres with large parking lots along at least two sides of the zoo. We arrived in two vehicles and it took both drivers a long frustrating time to find open parking places. Emily circled back to a lot near the entrance and took a spot when that driver was leaving. Jim had a harder time finding a spot and ended up blocks away.
The drivers dropped off Cory, Lucy and Carly in her stroller and me at the gate to buy tickets etc. At least 100 people were waiting in lines to purchase tickets. Many more were shopping in the gift shop and others trying to find their family members in the crowd — it was a zoo of people.
So things finally work out for us and we set out on trails around the zoo to experience brightly colored lights strung up all over the place. All along the way, there were adults who butted in line ahead of the little girls. Emily and I both thought that many of the other gawkers were rude. It took forever for us to enter a tent where zoo personnel held small animals and large insects for up-close-and-personal views because adults kept going in front of the stroller. Once the girls had their turns touching a guinea pig and a large centipede, the crowd thinned out and the rest of our tour went more smoothly.
Two of my favorite large light displays were of a dragon and an elephant. They were outlined and detailed in gold, green, red and blue lights. Lucy had a bit of trouble walking under a tree from which hung a lighted baboon. It scared her. I also loved the last lighted scenario. The trees were lighted with blue lights all around us that represented the ocean and creatures that live in the sea.
We also tried to see a live polar bear. The polar bear area was near the exit. It was rather dark and we had to watch what looked like snowdrifts to see if any of the white drifts moved. One of the white blurs did move finally, so we got to say we saw a polar bear.
When we left, Emily decided to drive some city streets instead of heading to the freeway so that we could see Christmas lights in residential areas. It was the long way home. The neighborhood around the zoo is beautifully maintained and restored brick and stone homes built in the early 1900s and we found a feast for our eyes.
Emily’s phone rings. She answers, then says, “Oh, no!”
“Oh, no” what, I wonder. Jim and Cory are supposed to be in the Rav 4 and on their way home.
The “oh, no” goes back to the search for parking spaces and the many text messages we sent one another so we knew where everyone was. On his long trek from his parking space, the key to the SUV fell out of my husband’s pocket. Jim and Cory retraced Jim’s steps hoping to find the key. Other than some scattered streetlights, the only light they had was from a flashlight feature on Cory’s phone.
Something fell to the pit of my stomach when I heard the news and I’m sure Jim’s stomach was churning worse than mine. So the plan is for Emily to drop the girls and me off at their home. Then she was to drive back to the zoo to pick up the guys.
I think one of our pre-lost key conversations in the car was about the rudeness we encountered. We were feeling a little self-righteous. Now we had the lost key to contend with.
The guys decide to walk back to the zoo entrance hoping someone turned in the key — and that’s exactly what happened. Jim was able to thank the person who turned the key in and he offered the kind stranger all the money he had in his billfold as a reward. The kind stranger turned the money down.
We went from complaining about rude behavior, to trying to figure out how we were going to obtain a key. (We only have the one key for the Rav 4.) The truck will probably have to be towed. We would have to prove that we owned the vehicle — somehow, with stomachs continuing to churn.
What a relief it was to receive the phone call telling us the key had been found! Our weeklong holiday visit with our family could have ended up by jumping through all kinds of hoops and expenses to rectify the situation. Thank God, it wasn’t.
And I think God thumped my forehead for thinking more about the rude people and not about the kind ones. The kindness of one stranger was all it took to feel good about the people with whom we shared Zoolights and who restored our holiday.