I had just finished making my purchase at Office Depot and complimented the young cashier on her earrings. I asked if she had made them. She hadn’t, and she told me where she bought them.
“Are they something you would wear?” she asked.
“I have been waiting for you,” she said. “Stay right there.”
She bent down, retrieved a package from the shelf beneath the counter and handed it to me.
I thanked her and walked out of the store with my gift—a small bag containing the same earrings she was wearing and a card with “Thank you” printed on the front and this handwritten message on the inside:
A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. -Steve Maraboli.
Pass the kindness on. The world could use it.
She had drawn two hearts on the card and signed her name.
Since that encounter, I keep thinking of her intentionality and thoughtfulness. I am amazed at how planful she was in her act of kindness. It was only random in the sense of her having no idea who would receive it.
That encounter reminded me of a woman I met years ago after her one-woman show performed in a small chapel at my university. I had approached her to thank her for her presentation and we discovered we had both lived in l’Arche communities.
She shared that she decided to move to l’Arche after meeting a man from my community who was visiting her college for a weekend workshop designed for students to learn about l’Arche. She said that Ross had walked right up to her, lightly touched her arm and said, “I have been looking for you.” She knew in that instant that she was supposed to live in l’Arche.
I didn’t tell her that Ross did that to many people, because it did not really matter. What mattered was that she was the one who was open to hearing his message; she was the one who responded to the invitation.
How many of us are waiting for someone to choose us to hear a certain message or receive a gift? How many of us are waiting for an invitation?
Conversely, how can we be instruments of change by acknowledging someone, by inviting others to see in new ways or by acts of kindness?
After I had met the woman from l’Arche, I often thought about how Ross knew which people to approach. I wondered if he had an intuition that certain people were waiting to be asked.
Now I can see that we are all waiting, even if we don’t know it.
I walked into that store with a list of things I needed to buy; I walked out with a deeper understanding of generosity.
I was deeply moved by that young woman’s act of kindness, and I find myself telling this story with a sense of wonder.
Have you had similar experiences? The world could use more kindness, so please share your stories.