The other day, I was on the street, and I SOOO didn’t want to be there. I was doing the ‘fast walk’. You know the one. Head down, not engaging, silently cursing anyone who would dare graze my arm as they moved by. Yeah, I’m such a *lovely* person sometimes…
I was working, with a ten year old and her mum, and I was wishing that I was anywhere else but there at that moment in time. I wanted to be walking on a beach, or talking to a friend in a beachside cafe, ANYWHERE but there. I was literally dreaming up a plan for my great escape.
And then somebody dropped some coins. And the noise, and the brightness of the coins in the sunlight on the concrete shook me back into reality. There was an older lady in front of me, about to clamber around on the pavement for her coins.
I must admit my reaction was automatic. Which I’m so glad about, because in the mood I was in, if there was any CONSCIOUS thought involved it would have been to side-step the coins and the PERSON, and keep walking. I know, I’m horrid. But my default subconscious automatic response was to bend down and pick up the coins for her.
Not a big deal. I KNOW. Believe me, especially because of my attitude towards the world at that time.
I handed the lady the coins, and put my hand on her shoulder, and then I was about to walk on. As you do.
BUT SHE BURST INTO TEARS. Um… they’re JUST. COINS.
You know it’s bad when somebody sobs over a few dropped coins…
But then again, it’s never *just* about coins is it? I gave her a hug, I could see she was desperately upset, and my sucky attitude disippated super duper fast as she started talking…
* Her son was dying, of cancer, and there was nothing the doctors could do.
* She was so tired, and she had come out to find something OTHER than hospital cafeteria food for her husband, who refused to leave their son’s bedside.
* She dropped her coins, and it was literally the last straw for her.
* Irrational. Broken. Hurting. Alone. Frazzled. Unable to make things right for her family….
WOW. Talk about a snap back to reality. My chest seized. SO many emotions. For her, and her husband, and her dying son. And for the ridiculousness of my attitude from prior to the ‘coin toss’ moment.
I talked to her for about ten minutes. And she was not crying when she walked away. I’m cautiously wincing as I write that, because I don’t think it was me specifically that helped to calm her. I think it was the fact that SOMEBODY saw her. Someone acknowledged where she was at. Somebody picked up the coins. Somebody hugged her. Somebody took a few minutes to talk with her and HEAR her.
I walked away with a rather contrite spirit, as you can imagine.
And another HUGE reminder that everyONE matters. A smile can make someone’s day. Kindness and grace in my tone can set, or change, the tone of someone else’s day.
Let’s not underestimate the crazy ridiculous power of our lives to influence those around us.
‘Do good, be rich in helping others, be extravagantly generous. If you do that, you’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is TRULY life.’