It December, I committed myself to 26 Acts of Kindness as a tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook. I wrote about it here and was certain I would be able to blast through in no time. I envisioned it as my holiday activity and thought if I was intentional about kindness I could check it off by early January.
It is January 30 and I am on number 8. Ok, so that wasn’t exactly how I imagined it would go. I framed the acts as something I wouldn’t ordinarily do…so opening a door, bringing Steve a coffee warm up (which quite honestly, I only do so he will respond likewise), writing a note or smiling at a stranger doesn’t count. Around Christmas we were on the road and I had many opportunities, so I made a list and started checking off every paid bridge toll fee and Salvation Army contribution. I bought several Starbucks cards along the way and returned them to the barista, asking her to give them to a weary traveler later in the day. I was making fine progress.
Then, on December 23, while we were on the freeway, we witnessed a terrible traffic accident. We stopped, and I spent quite a bit of time helping one of the women, especially during the moments when she thought she killed the others in the overturned van (she didn’t). I prayed with her, right there on the freeway. I brought her water. I called her daughter, twice. I hugged her. I wanted to bring her food, but when Kate offered up the delicious cranberry bread (which we had just broken into), I suggested perhaps not and gave her an apple instead. When we were finished, I got into the car and announced that I had earned at least 3 kindness points. Kate and Alex refused to give them to me! They said I would have done it anyway, and clearly I didn’t go out there because of my list. I suspect it was the non-giving of the cranberry bread that put me out of favor there. And that apple is probably still on the side of the road.
Anyway, on the trip back I bought another Starbucks card, but skipped paying the secret bridge toll. I wondered how I would be able to manage 18 more acts of kindness because you know, it’s January. Yesterday I was leaving Target and there was a woman holding a sign, asking for money for her family. I recognized, just for a moment, that between my errands and my home, she was an opportunity for me to be kind. I slowed down, opened my wallet and pulled out my cash. I smiled and asked her how she was doing and gave her what I had. And if I had the cranberry bread, I would have given it to her, too.
I stopped making the list, but I am still thinking about it, and still doing what I can. It’s a matter of looking for opportunities. They are around us, even in January. And even in February. I’ll keep you posted.