Most of us have heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. After today, I’m pretty sure that all of us need a village, maybe not to raise each other, but to care for each other.
The beginning of this story is that my zippered wallet containing my money, credit cards, driver’s license, and phone, fell out of my jacket pocket as I got in my car and drove off from a small store to go to an appointment. The end of the story is that I got it all back. But it’s the middle of the story that matters here.
When I thought back over what happened today, I realized that at least seven people participated in getting my things back to me. With one exception, all were strangers to me. All were busy going about their lives, but cared enough to pause and help this lost little wallet and all its contents get home to an extremely relieved and humbly grateful me.
Seven people. That is amazing. And then again, it isn’t, because I was reminded today that many people, given the chance, will choose to be kind. At some level, we recognize our interconnectedness and our shared humanity.
Someone once posed the question on their blog of whether we are our brother’s keeper. Yes, I commented. We are our brother’s keeper because we are our brother. Jesus noted that whatever we do to others, we do to him. He didn’t say it was as if we did it to him. He said exactly what he meant.
When my kids were teenagers, we would sometimes play the kindness game. We would go through our day actively looking for opportunities to be kind (including being kind to each other). Then, over dinner, we would relate our favorite kindness stories. It was fun. But more important, it shifted our priorities and changed the way we focused our attention.
It got me out of my isolated bubble, made me notice my surroundings rather than being lost in thought (or these days looking at my phone), and connected me even if just for a moment to many people I might otherwise have passed by. It helped me pause before I said something harsh, slowed time down to make space for helping instead of pressing ahead to get through a task. I found that I was happier, more content, more grateful.
I hope that all those people who helped me today are feeling the thanks I’m sending their way. I hope that their hearts were lighter today, their problems a little less burdensome, their smiles a little quicker. I hope that even though we didn’t meet, they feel connected to me, the person their kindness graced. And I hope they recognize their belonging in the village we all inhabit.
Life is short, and we have but little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel this way with us. Oh, be swift to love. Make haste to be kind. ~Henri-Frederic Amiel