It always bothers me when people do something kind and then brag about it. I think it sullies the pureness of the gesture when you go around telling people what a nice person you are. That being said…I’m going to tell you about something kind I did.
A few days ago the doorbell rang and when I looked out the window, I could see it was two young men in company uniforms. I thought about not answering, but decided to hear what they had to say.
When I opened the door, one of them said, “we heard this is the house that’s giving out hot chocolate to very cold people!” and laughed. I laughed too, and then asked him what they wanted.
Turns out they were selling cable packages, which I did not need. After a few minutes of back and forth, they turned to go. But something made me say ‘do you guys really want hot chocolate?’ to which they both replied an enthusiastic ‘yes!’
I told them to wait outside (covid) and I would be back in a few minutes. I made them hot chocolate and also gave them each a bag of cookies.
When I went back outside to give it to them they were so appreciative it surprised me a bit. They thanked me profusely, but it was more the tone they used than the words. Their gratitude was so genuine I could feel it in my bones.
Now, I hadn’t really done anything that extraordinary. The hot chocolate was easy to make, and the cookies leftover from Christmas had been sitting in my freezer taunting me on a daily basis. I was happy to get those little devils out of my house. So, it was a very simple act of kindness without a lot of effort.
But their reaction was so much bigger than the gesture.
As I thought about it, I realized these young men were brown-skinned. I wondered what these last four years had been like for them. What had they felt as white supremacists were marching in our streets? Had they been shown such little kindness from strangers these past years that such a simple gesture could elicit such an impassioned response?
We are all just coming out of the defensive crouch position we’ve been in during this last administration, and some of us have suffered way more than others. I think it’s not only important to acknowledge this, but to go the extra mile to let our fellow citizens know that hate didn’t win.
While that wasn’t my intent in the gesture, it made me aware of how important it is to bring kindness back into the equation. I hope that as we try to heal and unify, those of us who weren’t in fear for our lives on a daily basis go the extra mile to reach out our hands to those who have been.
There’s something else that’s important to note; doing this for them made me very happy. There is a heart connection in acts of kindness that uplifts both the giver and recipient. All three of us benefited from that encounter.
So when you despair over the wreckage of these past years, remember that there are things we can do to expedite healing, like letting someone cut in line or smiling at a stranger. It’s those small acts of kindness that will be the foundation as we knit the fabric of our country back together.