“Be The Change You Want to See in the World.”
I love stories about people being kind to one another, especially when their kindnesses are spontaneous acts of generosity with nothing expected in return. I live in a small community where I am blessed to know a great many generous people. I witness acts of kindness on an almost daily basis: if you are sick, there is a good chance that someone will bring you a pot of homemade soup. If a neighbour is in need, one phone call will galvanise the community into action. If someone is sick and must leave our tiny community for medical treatment, a local church will organise a community breakfast to raise money for the family. If a friend is discouraged, we rally around them. We promise to pray for them. And then we do.
Some people are so generous with their time that it is almost impossible to miss. Others show their kindnesses in subtler ways. My Dad was one of those quietly generous people who never, ever spoke about the things he did for others. I learned more about his kind-heartedness at his funeral than I ever did growing up. I lost count of the number of folks who came up to me, at his funeral, to tell me how Dad had helped them ‘that time when they were down on their luck’. He was almost obsessively private about his acts of compassion so I was particularly pleased for all the stories I heard that day.
I always struggle when I see a video of a person doing something really, really kind while someone else films the whole thing so that they can put it on social media later the same day. On the one hand, there is so much negativity in this world, I feel any simple act of kindness should be celebrated and shared. On the other hand, I always wonder if the person would be doing what they are doing if no one were watching. A little part of me can’t help but wonder if they require an audience in order to prove that they are doing good works.
And I always hope I am wrong.
A dear friend of mine recently confided to me that she had been out shopping with her teenage boys when they all decided to pause for a bite to eat. As they stopped at an intersection to turn into a fast-food restaurant parking lot, her oldest son couldn’t help but notice a homeless man, on crutches, who was standing off to one side, holding a sign that indicated he was in need. After they went into the restaurant and found a table near the window, my friend’s son kept thoughtfully looking out the window, across the parking lot, to where the man was still standing, holding his sign.
At one point, he voiced out loud that he wanted to do something for this man. His younger brother, having picked up on his older brother’s concern, eagerly joined in. It was a cold day, and my friend suggested a hot coffee but otherwise stayed quiet as her boys became more and more animated. Yes, a hot coffee seemed like a great idea: would he like a burger too? Perhaps some fries? What if he was a vegetarian? Perhaps they should also buy him a salad? Before they had finished their meal, they had pooled their shopping money and made their purchases. Gifts in hand, the boys walked over to the man, who gave them a surprised, heartfelt hug before they made their way back to their waiting Mom.
My friend, puffed with joy and moved beyond words, sat watching her boys from her seat in the restaurant, with tears in her eyes. “At that moment, I felt I must have done something right as a single parent,” she told me later.
She only told a few close friends about what her boys did that day. I was so grateful that she told me. I told her it’s the sort of thing my Dad would have approved of…
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com