Drive By

Praise. Adoration. Submissive surrender. Maybe it was all three and my thoughts told me that was why the woman I saw on the side of the road had her hands up.

Why else do we raise both hands simultaneously? Think about it, work this out with me here for a moment. When we raise ONE hand it’s to bring the the attention to ourselves, to say, “look at me,” “I have a statement to make” or “I have a question,” “I have the answer.” Maybe its even, “I need a taxi.” And by the way, this must be pointed out, there is always an audience or other person whose attention we’re attempting to gain. No one raises their hand when alone—there’s no need and no point.

But putting both hands up—that physical gesture communicates something entirely different. It’s no longer about bringing the attention to oneself. Both hands raised, whether high or tremblingly low is a universal sign of surrender. In the old black and white westerns regardless of good guy or bad, whoever held the gun would demand, “stick ‘em up!” “Drop your weapon and get your hands in the air.” So are the demands of someone who must use force to change a situation or to get their way. Hands go up, in agreement or not, when deadly force is in the mix.

So having those basic facts of cowboys and villains and the tension between good and evil in my personal knowledge base, it was easy to acknowledge that the hands I saw raised were neither personally attention getting nor were they forced.

As I drove by, speeding through a stretch with no homes or businesses around, I saw that her gaze was toward the sky and both her hands were raised. There were no bad guys to elicit her surrender, no teacher’s questions to answer, no taxis to hail.

She faced east and with respectful and repetitive bowing she seemed to privately acknowledge a presence greater than her own. What a strangely tender scene I observed from my drive-by vantage point. She did not notice me of course. She was in the presence of someone greater. She was surrendered.

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