I have been privileged to witness and hear of several acts of compassion and kindness this week. These sorts of things always mean so much to me. I always feel like its a touch of God Himself.
A father telling of the time when his son came home from the psychiatric hospital after his first break and how he stopped everything to be there for him. This father is a big tall man's man of a father who doesn't strike me as particularly sensitive to feelings and such. He told how he and his wife had genetic testing done before they decided to have children. They wanted to ensure that the odds of their potential children having any of the mental illness that was present on his side of the family, would be negligble. Then their precious boy was stricken. This father told his job that he couldn't come back for awhile, they allowed him to work from home....for 8 months. He and his wife never left their boy alone. They walked with him, they talked with him, they encouraged him to get involved in volunteer work, to paint, to play the flute, drove him around to all of his appointments....the dad said he just was with him. "We sat on the porch and smoked cigarettes....and I don't even smoke."
As I listened I thought of how these parents had done everything possible to ensure that this outcome didn't happen....but here they were, met with their worst fear. Yet they accepted their son as he was. There was no anger, no self pity....it's just what it was. They even shared that they feel blessed right now. Their son is compliant and open to treatment and making slow but sure progress. As I listened I thought, this is what Christ's compassion looks like. He meets His broken children where they are, He sits on the porch with them and I don't know if He smokes or not, but I do know that He would sit with no judgement and only love and acceptance emanating from Himself.
Today I went to the memorial service of a good man. A friends father. As I sat in that room I looked around and saw a beautiful group of imperfect people who through their mistakes, their struggles, have learned about forgiveness....both accepting and granting, acceptance of what is, and letting go. Many in that room have been brought into intimate touch with their own frailties and are humble people. The family patriarch had been a wonderful leader in fostering family togetherness and acceptance. Of standing together. No matter what.
My son was here visiting recently and he and I went for a walk with the dogs. While we were out he got an early morning work phone call and as I listened to him explain to the caller what to do, how to fix whatever problem was going on...I only heard patience and gracious communication coming from him. He didn't act irritated that he was being called on his day off in the early morning. He in no way made the caller feel stupid for needing help...I was so proud of him. My son who says he has no patience for people. He is growing into a good man who is patient, who has room in his spirit for people to learn and take extra time. When he hikes with me, he could go to the top and back down again in the time it is taking me to go one way....yet he goes at my pace, never rushing me, always reassuring me that "we have all day Mom." He is kind.
Molly's boyfriend making flashcards for her of the menu at work so she could learn it and get promoted to "server." This young man who reads her history text aloud to her and discusses it with her so she can remember it.
I ran into a friends unemployed husband sitting in the cafe in Safeway, using the free wi-fi, trying to figure out how to apply for a job online. A young man overheard us talking and started a conversation and gave this man so many good tips on job resources, places that help you write up your resume', direct you in the right direction to find work that suits you, job counseling, ways to get free dental and medical care through our county, on and on this guy went.....I felt like God had just whispered into his ear...."go sit over there and make friends with that guy."
There are so many good and kind people in this world. I think sometimes in our circumstances it becomes easy to focus on the negatives. I can think of so many acts of kindness I have seen bestowed upon my daughter, when she was at her worst. A kind word, a hug, a smile, something that said, "You are worthwhile." I don't know if she remembers a lot of them....but I do.
It makes me want to pay it forward...
Today I passed a local alcoholic sitting on a bench in town. He smiled and said hello. His eyes were bleary and running, he was unshaven and disheveled...but his smile was radiant. I stopped and talked for a minute. I wanted to convey that "you are still worthwhile." I hope he heard me.