Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

We All Need a Village

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

14 thoughts on “We All Need a Village”

  1. I try and pay attention and provide “small” helps whenever I can.
    For example – just yesterday as I was self-checking out of a grocery store the attendant noticed that the woman who had just checked out next to me had left 2 bags of groceries in the bag carousal. The attendant ran outside but could not find her. It had not been that long, so I kept an eye out for the woman and finally saw her across the parking lot getting into her car. I sprinted across the lot and flagged her down to tell her she had left bags at the checkout.
    A small thing for sure but kept the [older] women from having to come back later to get her groceries. First you must pay attention and then you must be aware that you should help. It is amazing to me how many people simply say, “not my problem”.

    1. That’s a great example, Bill. You are right that it is a two part process. First, pay attention so that you notice the opportunity to help. Second, help. I’m sure that customer was very grateful. Also nice that the attendant ran outside and tried to find her. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Beth–I’m so glad for your happy ending. What a relief! This Monday afternoon, I noticed that my primary credit card was missing. I racked my brain to remember where I had last used it, and–after checking at several wrong guesses–realized that it was at a restaurant the previous Friday evening. Yikes! It had been missing for three days. And to make matters worse, the restaurant was closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and wouldn’t open until 4 PM on Wednesday–a day I couldn’t go there. Should I call my credit card company and report it lost? Well, I had bigger things about which to be anxious, so I couldn’t bring myself to call, and yesterday the employees of the restaurant were happy to hand me my credit card which they had in safe-keeping. As I walked out of the restaurant, I overheard one of them say, ” I love it when things work out like this. People are always so relieved to have a happy ending.” Smiles all around!

    1. I love that story, Caroline, and I’m so glad you got to overhear that last comment. And so true. I was VERY relieved at my happy ending. Like you, I was wondering whether to start canceling things. I’m glad we both waited and had a lucky ending. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Galen. Thanks for sharing your kindness story with us all and reminding us that such good exists everywhere. It is good to remember that kindness is contagious and look for ways to “catch it!” ~Kathy

    1. That is a great observation, Kathy, about kindness being contagious. One of the angels who helped get my stuff back to me was an employee at a bakery/coffee shop down the block from where my wallet was lost. I left money with that person to use for customers until the money ran out. I asked that the customers be told why they were getting free goodies, hoping that they would be inspired to pay the kindness forward. Thank you for commenting.

  4. A powerful message that can never be repeated too often. We are all connected; now we just have to remember to act accordingly.

    I did share this post on Facebook. It needs the widest possible circulation.

    1. Thank you, Bob, for spreading the good word. I hope lots of people are inspired to look for kindness opportunities. I appreciate your comment.

    1. It was a nice reprieve from the stories we usually hear, that’s true. It reassured me that things like this are happening all the time — we just don’t hear about it. Thanks for commenting, Collin.

  5. Mona R McGinnis

    Before I knew my mom had dementia, I was reminded by a friend – Remember, you have a community. I go to those words frequently when I’m feeling overwhelmed with making decisions on her behalf and managing her care. I’m prompted to ask for help when needed. If it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes a village to look after the elderly as well. I’m a big believer in community/village. Yeah to happy endings.

    1. So glad you took your friend’s reminder to heart. I spent so much of my life thinking I could and should do it all myself. Thankfully, I finally wore myself out and learned how to ask for help. Thanks for your comment, Mona.

  6. I always say that I need my village! I live in a major metropolitan area, but the friends I’ve made in my little enclaves (yoga class, the marina where we live, work) have gone above and beyond to support me through some very challenging times, and I have done the same for them. We definitely need each other!

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