This I Believe

Heather - Pacifica, California
Entered on October 4, 2006

CAUGHT IN THE ACT

. . . of Kindness

She was petite in stature. Her hooded rain jacket hung in a disheveled manner falling off of her left shoulder while the rain soaked her short, grayish brown hair. An inner voice, or intuition, – call it what you may – signaled my preoccupied thoughts like a blinking traffic light.

I changed gears in my pace to a slow stride aware that I’d miss my train. I was compelled to keep pace behind the woman as she shuffled along with uneven steps, her torso leaning heavily to her left side.

The rain fell relentlessly while passersby bustled around us with umbrellas and hooded rain jackets. As my warm wool coat deflected raindrops, my eyes were fixated on the back of the little woman. What caught my attention next was a well-dressed, dark-haired young man standing several yards ahead and facing us. He stood motionless. There was a look on his face. It was one of compassion. I don’t recall the last time I witnessed such an expression. It was the kind of look that leaves a permanent imprint in ones mind. I watched him watching the little woman. I continued my slow pace in her shadow as my eyes now remained fixed on the young man. Imagine it now – me watching him watching her.

The man suddenly took several deliberate steps forward meeting the woman, blocking her path. What I witnessed next caused me to stop walking and just . . . observe. The gentle young man, with angel eyes, zipped up her jacket and placed the hood properly over her head. I took a few steps past them and stopped again. I watched. He snugly tied the hood under her chin while she gazed up into his eyes with a child-like smile. Gratitude was written all over her simple face that bore the distinguishing features of Down’s Syndrome.

My heart was overwhelmed that rainy day, and my steps became light. I wanted nothing more than to have thought to help the little lady first, but in hindsight, I knew that she wasn’t for me to have helped. It wasn’t my moment to extend a helping hand and a compassionate gesture. This “act of kindness” belonged to the young man whose face I shall never forget. I was right where I belonged witnessing a godly act of humanity while my heart felt replenished with goodness and renewed hope in the compassion of strangers.

Vincent Van Gogh once said, “One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on the way.”

I believe we must slow our hurried pace at times and observe random situations that slither into our lives like wisps of smoke. When the ember in our souls suddenly bursts into a hot, blazing furnace, we must step forth and bless strangers with random acts of kindness.