Lately I have been thinking about how magical life can be. My life has seen a smattering of blessing that seem to come from nowhere. So many everyday things are happening that make it seem that the Universe truly IS conspiring for my good: the event that happens just when I need to experience it; the person who shows up in my life at the perfect moment; the Facebook message that hits my heart when I’m feeling so defeated. In the immortal words of Pete Seeger:
The world will be solved by millions of small things.
Of course I see the negative as well: the person who barks at me in fear, the driver who is rushing and pulls out in front of me, the rainstorm that de-petals all the flowers in the garden taking them from a beautiful mass of bloom to a white carpet on the lawn. But these things are not about me. These things are about someone being in pain, or not staying in the moment or life just going about its business. Nothing to take personally. But sometimes we do.
There are many times in our lives where we feel hurt. Maybe someone said you talk funny or called you fat or simply didn’t encourage you when you felt you did something worthwhile. Maybe a teacher chastised you in the class and you’ve carried that with you since childhood. But it doesn’t serve to hang onto these things. They are not truly significant (if we don’t let them be) and usually, aren’t even truly true! Besides, there are so many more people who give you blessings. The friend who calls to see if you’re okay after the loss of a pet, the person who shares something very personal letting you know that they trust you, the little baby who coos as you smile at them and just make you want to explode with love and joy because they are so adorable.
I have been thinking about all the wonderful blessings that have come into my life. Here are a few:
- The nurses that cared for me in the hospital during childhood surgeries making me feel so special. I still remember their names, Coco and Cricket. It made a traumatic time much more pleasant. They probably just felt like they were doing their jobs, but the little things they did made a big impact on me.
- The driver who almost took out a mailbox one day while we were tooling through the neighborhood. He doesn’t know it, but that near-accident was a wake-up call that brought me to a realization that probably saved my life.
- The person who called to return my cell phone after it dropped while I was riding my Harley. Could have kept it but didn’t, he and his daughter instead did the helpful thing making my life so much easier than it could have been.
- The teacher who became my son’s favorite teacher. Mrs. Ott was an amazing 4th grade teacher, teaching not only about math, science and reading but about trust and finances. She created a system of credits in her class that taught about responsibility and basic economics. It even incorporated the possibility of theft and how to deal with it effectively. She allowed students to be who they were and at year end, each student received a candy that rewarded them for who they were showing them each that their individuality was special and meaningful. Losing her to cancer while Tom was still in school was a huge loss, but the difference she made in so many lives helped ease the grief.
- The principal at that same school who remembered every child’s name, and recognized their parents. I don’t know how Mr. Land did it but he was extraordinary. He was able to give each child a feeling of being known. And each parent too!
- The many authors who’ve written books that have brought me new understanding.
- The songwriters and singers who’ve done the same.
- The soldier who shared with me about why it bothers him when people say, “Thanks for your service”. I don’t know if my perspective helped him see that sometimes these people are genuinely sincere but it sure helped me to realize how that statement sounds on the receiving end. It has changed the way I interact when I share my gratitude with soldiers and these events have gone from simple greetings and handshakes to longer discussions and hugs. Now these interactions are much richer, thanks to a deeper understanding given to me by someone who took a risk to share something so very personal.
- The hitchhikers I have picked up since moving to Alexandria. I don’t know if it’s the cold but I just couldn’t stand to see people walking along the road in winter so I made a pact to try to give rides when I can. The last one was a wonderful guy named Tim who lives in Evansville but comes to Alex several times a week (about 18 miles one way). I’d seen him around town. He carries a big walking stick and he turned out to be a pleasant fellow. If you see him, you might consider giving him a ride. It makes me feel really good to know I’ve done a little bit to help someone so I am grateful to these folks who let me give them a brief ride. I have been turned down a few times so it’s not everyone who will give me this blessing!
- The woman last week who sent me a card at Cherry Street Books after her family had visited the week before. This card was a lovely Trader Joe’s card (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=744227022387376&set=pcb.744228165720595&type=1&theater) with a beautiful statement of gratitude for my friendliness during their visit. She didn’t have to take the time, but it sure made my day that she did. It was a difference she made in my life that helps me to see that I am making a difference! May the circle be unbroken.
Many of us remain ignorant of the ways we have been a blessing. But sometimes we get a glimpse. Like the card above, someone shares with us how we affected life for him. It’s a beautiful gift to have someone share with you how you have helped. Sometimes it can even be years later when we find out about these things. And sometimes we hear it through the grapevine. I once had the chance to hear from a woman, who had heard from a man, about how I’d made an impression on him. Unbeknownst to me, he was affected by a small action he’d witnessed and shared with her about the situation. And she let me know about it. I would have had no idea of the impact I’d made if she hadn’t. What a blessing.
I encourage you to think about the many blessings in your life and maybe let someone know that they have been a blessing to you. And perhaps you can take some time to ponder the ways you have been a blessing too. Can’t think of anything? Haven’t written an award winning song? Don’t know how on earth you could have made a difference? Well, I bet when you were a baby, at some point, you cooed. And someone, somewhere, was struck with joy.