Of Service, in a Department Store

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, November 13, 2014

LOVE one another John 13-34

Of Service, in a Department Store

I helped out today. Volunteering in a department store. My church is participating in Carson’s Community Days, this Friday and Saturday. By participating, the church sold coupon books. The coupons are designated as “our” coupons. So when people who bought books from St. Luke’s Church give the cashier at the register “our” coupons, they are credited to “our” account. (At least, that was the way the process was explained to me. I may not have it quite right.)

So, I spent two hours yesterday, and two hours today greeting people at one of the main entrances in Carson’s. Asking whether anyone would like to purchase the books to use tomorrow or Saturday. I had some really interesting interactions, too!

I assisted one senior who was looking for a small cart. (Yes, Carson’s has small shopping carts, in a little corral by the door.) She was really downhearted at not finding a cart. I could see it in her face and hear it in her sigh of frustration and regret.

In my friendly, open manner, I came up to her. I asked her whether she might be able to use one of the metal strollers. “I know it’s more of a stroller, but it’s heavy duty. And it can carry packages and bags, too.” The senior looked at the black metal stroller assessingly, and then said she thought she would take it. About forty-five minutes later, the senior returned. Pushing the stroller with several bags in it.

I smiled at her. “I see you found some things today. How did the stroller work for you?”

“Oh, very well. Thank you for suggesting it.” I wished her well as she went out the door to her car.

Unexpectedly, I also met a wonderful woman, a retired employee I had known while she was working at a care center nearby. Such a caring, giving woman! It was marvelous to run into her again. Truly. She and I had a brief opportunity to talk together. And it was not just superficial. We had some meaningful, true conversation. Deep sharing. It is so amazing when that sort of thing is able to happen.

And those are just two of the wonderful interactions I had today. This was yet another situation when I saw God’s hand at work. When I put myself out there, give God the opportunity—“here I am. Use me. Send me.” God can do marvelous things.


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Be Kind? Oh, Bother!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pooh, Eeyore and Christopher Robin - illustration by Ernest Shepard

Pooh, Eeyore and Christopher Robin – illustration by Ernest Shepard

Eeyore - Stained glass from Delphi Glass

Eeyore – Stained glass
from Delphi Glass

Be Kind? Oh, Bother!

I felt more than a little like Eeyore today. I did not feel one hundred percent healthy, so right off the bat I was dealing with a body that was in slow motion. A few aches and pains, and a slight headache. Yes, I still have the cold my son so generously shared with me. So yes, I had a ways to climb just to get to my normal starting point for the day.

It’s not that terrible things habitually happen to me, but I found today I was more pessimistic than usual. (Oh, bother!) It’s not that the world is a rotten place, or that it’s always raining when I go outside. No, I know that’s not the case. But today, it seemed that I had to run extra hard just to keep up. Bob and tread water just a little faster just to stay on top of the water.

The administrative assistant at work was so helpful today! Sunny got some things ready for Saturday, when I am going to have a Blessing of the Animals. I really appreciate teamwork. I’ll be picking up the animal treats from the large pet supply store near the church, tomorrow afternoon. And, I was able to get some bottled water for the pets’ families, too. I am looking forward to a great morning on Saturday!

But meanwhile, I still need to get through this common, garden-variety cold. And I still feel like Eeyore. It isn’t that I think happiness is out of reach, somehow, but happiness seems further away when I’m not feeling well. Even though the weather outside is beautiful and sunny. I’m reminded of one of the workers at the nail salon this afternoon. (Yes, I did get my nails polished. I do, periodically. Just a basic manicure, with some neutral polish.)

This worker was really an Eeyore, if ever I saw one! Sad, downhearted, mouth in a straight line. She did not make eye contact with anyone. Hardly said a word all the time I was there. I don’t like to compare myself to anyone, but I was only an Eeyore-wannabe, compared to her!

Something inside of me wanted to connect with her. I was friendly, I talked a bit. I smiled at her, complimented her. Nope. (At least she did a lovely job on my nails.)

I didn’t think about it until afterwards, but she might habitually be like that. Always thinking the world is grim, always pessimistic. It is sad to think that—for some people—they might think that happiness is something just out of reach. God, I am so glad that I know that You are right by my side! And when I take the opportunity to be kind, to smile and be helpful? It helps so much for me to connect to people! Or, at least to try to connect. That gets me out of my own pessimism. Out of my own head, and makes me available to serve! To offer to help, to be kind. Even when I do feel like Eeyore!


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Giving a Shove, Kindly

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, January 26, 2014

chairs shoveled parking place

Giving a Shove, Kindly

I visited some friends this afternoon in a densely populated area of our suburb. Not too far from the Elevated public train stop. I was looking forward to a decent cup of coffee! I parked the car nearby, and walked the rest of the way. As I was walking, I saw a car stuck by the curb. Here in the Chicago area, when it snows, sometimes people have difficulty getting out of their parallel parking places. Especially if the snow is of any depth at all. So, there was this guy with a smaller car. He even had put down kitty litter so his front wheels could get some traction, and was trying to rock his way out. No luck.

The guy looked downhearted. As I walked down the block, I saw him keep trying to get out of the parking place. Without success. I’m in decent shape for my age, and I was early for the meet-up. So, I decided to offer my assistance. He rolled down his window, thanked me for my offer and told me about the kitty litter effort. However, he warned me, “Another guy tried to help a couple of minutes ago, with no luck.” He sighed, looking up at me with a resigned twist to his mouth. I repeated my offer with a smile. He paused a moment, and then gladly accepted. I didn’t want to give him lots of advice, but I did say, “I noticed you trying to rock your car. I’ve gotten my car out in weather like this, and that’s the way to do it. For sure!” We exchanged smiles again, and I went to the rear of the small car.

I tried to time my shoves with his rocking. He almost got the car moving forward, but not quite. I spent about two minutes helping. No luck, again. Another man materialized at my side at the rear of the car. He had assessed what the problem was, and gave the driver a brief explanation and how-to. I stood by, nodding my encouragement. The driver looked more hopeful, now that there were two of us to give a friendly shove. Sure enough, in about thirty seconds, the driver had freed himself from the pile of snow by the curb. He waved to both of us behind the car, and we all went our separate ways.

What a way to be kind and useful. This kind act of service made me think of similar acts—similar activities. In fact, an analogy for everyday life. Just as this driver was stuck in a pile of snow (and not such a huge pile, either), I can get stuck in everyday activities, too. I can get snowed under by a pile of errands, meetings, paperwork, telephone calls that need to be made, emails that need to be read and answered. Sometimes it’s helpful for others to come alongside of me and give me a hand (or a shove!). Then, I can get free of the stuff clogging me up from moving, and freed for more kind, God-honoring acts of service.

Wow. I didn’t expect that. God, such a down-to-earth object lesson for me. Thanks!