As I’ve said before, I have become a huge fan of the Kindness blog (check it out at http://kindnessblog.com), and read at least one entry each day. Yesterday’s post, “Imagine If” by Lucy Williams, pierced me to the heart. She tells about seeing a young man step into a crowded bus she was riding, crying and begging for money or food. She felt uncomfortable faced with such raw need, and didn’t know how to help as she only had her debit card and no cash.
The man said he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything in days, so she gave him her bottle of water. A man helped him into a seat, and another man patted his arm for comfort. The man cried and said he had a friend he could go to who had moved to the next town over, and someone on the bus gave him directions to the center of that town.
At the end of the post she said that she didn’t know how much she and the others had done to help, but hoped that they had helped him in some way.
I know that for me, seeing someone in distress hurts my heart and I don’t always know what to do. It IS uncomfortable to see someone in such need–for me, I feel a combination of sorrow, pity, and, to my shame; fear that helping this person will mean that they will literally hang on me forever. I’m not proud of that last, but there it is. I have and continue to give money where I can, or at least meet the eyes of the person and see them–acknowledge that they are another human on this earth along with me.
Years ago, my dad was doing his usual walk-about on the walking trail in town. He saw a young man sitting on a bench, crying. Dad went up to him, sat down and asked him what was the matter. The young man said that today was his birthday, and that his dad had just died and he didn’t know how to feel. My dad put his arm around him and said that anyway he chose to feel was all right and appropriate.
I am sure that he also told the young man the mix of emotions he felt when he lost his own father. He and his father had had a difficult relationship, and it was hard to communicate or even have much in common. I think that my dad struggled for many years to try and understand him, and later on, to forgive him. I believe he came to see his father as a conflicted man who was in fear most of his life, didn’t know how to show his love, and who came off as being combative most of the time to hide his fear.
It speaks of the great journey my dad has taken in his life to be the man he is today—that he could sit down with a stranger in pain, and comfort him. I believe that Dad gave him his number if he wanted to talk again. I am sure that that kind moment in time made that young man feel less alone.
It is a hard fact that there always be those with more than we have and those with less than we have. This fact doesn’t have to isolate us. I’ll tell you from my own experience that I’ve learned to listen to my heart (which, by the way, will not lie to you). It tells me when to give, when to speak out, when to look into another person’s eyes. I may feel very uncomfortable about this, but my heart urges me on.
This a time in the world’s history where things can either go very badly or very good. Despite the horrors that the daily news bombards us with, there is a great deal of good in the world. There are a great many people who give as they can, help as they can, comfort as they can. Kindness is a living thing that seeks to grow. That kindness may start with something as simple as giving a thirsty man a bottle of water.