A dear friend of mine once said, “if the only prayer you ever say is ‘thank you,’ it’s enough.” Just that simple phrase holds a volume of meaning; thanks, of course; respect, acknowledgement, value, appreciation, and consciousness. If someone simply opens a door for you when your hands are full, the ‘thank you’ is an acknowledgement of that person’s worth and presence. It’s an “I see you” message to that person kind enough to hold that door open for you. Those words have the power to change a person’s mood, attitude, and possibly, their life.
It is hurtful when someone offers a kindness to someone else who does not acknowledge it, or worse–dismisses it. These days kindness can be pretty thin on the ground, and a little of it travels far. It is also as catching as a summer cold. Once when I lived in Texas I was at one of those super-duper ‘galleria’ malls with a friend, and we stopped by a Cinnabon to share a cinnamon roll.
It was crowded that day, so we had to wait for a table to clear. As we stood there, a couple sitting at one of the tables called to us and invited us to sit with them.
“We’re almost done, so please sit here and enjoy the Cinnabon!”
We told them how nice it was of them to offer us the seat, and thanked them.
In a few minutes they left. We looked around and saw two women standing, waiting for a table. We looked at each other and said as one: “Please come sit with us! You can have our table.” They smiled and came over. We chatted for a while, then we got up to leave. As we walked away, my friend tugged at my arm and said, “Look.”
The two women who sat at our table were in the process of beckoning a woman and her little boy over to sit with them. We looked at each other, laughed and said together, “Pay it forward!” Good follows good, and it’s surprisingly easy to do. I’m sure everyone has heard about the people who pay for other peoples’ coffees at Starbucks and other places. It’s just a nice little surprise that can make a big difference in someone’s life. Funny how the smallest things can be the largest things, isn’t it?
The times I’ve been able to give back have been great, and I have learned long ago to accept the gift of a stranger cheerfully and gratefully. I used to feel that I didn’t need anything from anybody, so the gift was wasted on me. But now that I understand how good it feels to give back, I’ve learned to accept graciously and from the heart. I now see these little kindnesses as the gifts they are–a break in the day, an unexpected bit of good fortune, a laugh, a smile, a thank you.
And boy, these days a ‘thank you’ means so much.