Recently, when my husband and I were in New York City, we loaded onto the subway. It was very crowded. I am eye level with everyone’s waist and I was totally surrounded and could barely see. I was hanging onto one of the bars so that my wheelchair would not tip over as we started and stopped. As the doors opened at a station and more were cramming in, a young man in his early 20’s entered right next to me. He was carrying a large case over his shoulder and it kept banging into the side of my chair. As I looked up at him, the crowd was squeezing him also. He started tapping his head over and over with his fingers and I immediately realized this young man was on the autism spectrum. The crowd was upsetting him. I could hear laughing and I looked over and about three guys were pointing and laughing at him and tapping their heads mocking. I don’t think the young man ever noticed because he was getting upset. I asked the young man if he was carrying a musical instrument in his case. He looked at me and paused and said, “No. No. It is my camera stand. I like to take pictures.” I began to talk to him about my daughter and how she like to take pictures. We talked about where he took them, where his favorite spots in NYC was, where he worked and anything else I could think of to keep his mind off the crowd. We talked until he got off at his stop. He stopped tapping his head and I made a friend.
I could give you so many stories. Maybe because I sit a lot and watch much of what goes around me. Maybe because I feel deeply and it kind of spills over into my vision and how I see others. Maybe it is because God has put me on a journey to reach out to hurting people. I don’t know. I know this. There are a LOT of people out there who are sad, or scared, or lonely, or hurting.
So many times at Christmas, we wonder what we can give those we love. What is the perfect gift? What do you get for those of us who already have so much? Gifts have to get bigger and more elaborate. The wow factor is no longer a long sugar stick in a stocking. It has to be hundreds of dollars spent on each child and one another. We feel the pull of the commercialization of Christmas and we do not like it, so we put our dollars in the Salvation Army bucket, we donate a coat, or we serve at a soup kitchen. And those things are wonderful! But I would like to suggest that we can give a gift that all can afford, all have time for, every age can do it, and can keep giving all year long.
The gift is kindness.
By definition, it is pretty clear. But by practice, do we often overlook it? It is not hard being kind. We are just too busy many times to actually stop and think about others long enough to do anything about it. I am often a recipient of kindness. I guess my wheelchair is sort of an object that people naturally will reach out in kindness towards. Yes, there some rude, unkind people out there, but it has been my experience that most people are kind to me.
Doors are opened all the time, people have stopped in the parking lot to ask if I need help loading my wheelchair, offers of help are constant in a store, friends willing to load me in and out of their vehicles or get inside their houses, my husband making sure I am comfortable and helping me, my kids loving and devoting on me….I am a blessed girl. I am given much kindness. Can I give it back?
It is not big things. It is a smile to a sad stranger. It is a short text letting someone know you are thinking of them. Just do it when you are thinking about it. If you wait, you will forget. Call a friend. Just because. A 5 minute call is better than none. I am so thankful for my friends that call! Send a note. Buy a coffee. Meet at the mall. Give a hug. Put your arm around someone and tell them you are so thankful for them. Invite someone to your home for a movie. Do good to those who aren’t good to you. Look around for someone lonely and reach out to them. Just put yourself in their shoes for a minute and think how they must be feeling. Then do something about it.
Kindness never gets outdated. It never rusts or breaks. It doesn’t take batteries. And everyone…..everyone….appreciates it.
Thank you, my dear friends and readers, who are so kind to me. It is my favorite gift and I pray I can keep passing it along!