A Perfect Day—to Help Out

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Autumn--my very favorite color." -- Belle Oliver

“Autumn–my very favorite color.” — Belle Oliver

A Perfect Day—to Help Out

Today was the perfect day. Beautiful, sun-dappled October afternoon. Warm weather—perfect for shirtsleeves. Indian summer was the phrase that came to mind. Couldn’t imagine anything better.

My youngest daughter was in Chicago for the day, working at the restaurant where my oldest daughter is manager. At the last minute, my oldest daughter needed an extra pair of hands at the restaurant. Good thing her sister was available! Moreover, the reason I went into Chicago this afternoon.

Full disclosure: my husband does not particularly care to go into the city on the weekend. For years, he’s worked downtown during the week, so he prefers to be anywhere but the city when it’s his time off. Except, it was a particularly gorgeous afternoon, one of the very last until next spring—November being right around the corner. I wanted to know whether he’d be willing to come with me to pick up our daughter when she was done at the restaurant. Sure, he said.

Neither of us expected to see children trick-or-treating all up and down the street. Participating businesses had signs in their windows, stating that they welcomed trick-or-treaters. Mid-afternoon, temperate weather, sidewalks mobbed with people of all ages dressed in costume. Sure, mostly children, but also twenty-somethings, parents, even older people. As my husband and I walked to the restaurant, I commented on several adorable or remarkable costumes. My husband and I saw lots of princesses, some superheroes, spacemen, dragons, lions, pirates, and black cats.

I wonder whether some people wear their costumes on other days of the year. A few even all the time. Not necessarily fancy-dress costumes, but still in masquerade. Still putting on a part, not being real or genuine. Sure, some of it is protective, or amusing, defensive, or even unconscious. I thought these deep thoughts afterwards, not this afternoon. At the time, I was too busy enjoying the sights and sounds of the passing parade of people. As I think back on the afternoon, other than remembering the gorgeous weather, I wonder whether I might wear a costume sometimes. Just pretend. Whether I am less than genuine and real sometimes. If I am honest, I must admit that I do wear masks, I do wear a false face or costume sometimes. I hope it is less than I used to. God willing, I can try to do is to be honest and genuine, one day at a time.

This afternoon, my husband and I successfully retrieved our daughter, made our way back to the car, and wended our way home. My husband even encouraged me to take the long way, which pleased me. And, my daughter was overjoyed that she didn’t have to take the El all the way home. Altogether, a lovely, out-of-the-ordinary fall outing. And, an extraordinarily pleasant way of being helpful.

@chaplaineliza

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Of Service? Through Eavesdropping?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, October 23, 2014

BK be kind 1 Thess

Of Service? Through Eavesdropping?

Ever eavesdrop on a conversation while standing in line at the store? Yeah, me too.

That’s what happened today. Let me back up and give a little perspective. On the way home from an errand, I remembered we needed some milk. I don’t ordinarily stop at a nearby drug store, but it was later in the afternoon. The grocery store would be mobbed with people after work. I figured I would save time by going to the drug store. So what if I paid a little more.

Immediately ahead of me in line was an older African American woman. She and the cashier apparently were familiar with each other, because their conversation was genuine, fluid, and warm. The woman ahead of me started in the middle of things. I took it as some topic she had started previously, recently. Perhaps yesterday, or last weekend.

She was clearing out her elderly relative’s house after his death, and she found all kinds of coins. And paper money. Her relative had been an amateur collector for decades. Not only money from the 1900’s, but also a selection from the 1800’s, too. And, from what she was saying, I could tell she did not know the first thing about valuable, collectible coins or paper money. I couldn’t help it. I have some people in my family who collect things, and I have absorbed one important principle from them. Only deal with reputable dealers. Otherwise, disreputable people masquerading as dealers could very well fleece amateurs. Big time!

I was very apologetic, but I felt I simply had to interrupt. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but hear. It’s wonderful that you are finding some interesting coins! But I wanted to caution you. Some of my family members are amateur collectors, too, of different kinds of things.” Both the woman and the cashier were intrigued by what I said. I had their attention. I pleaded with her not to go to just any pawnshop or place that advertises “Will Pay For Gold.”

The cashier nodded, and the woman ahead of me seriously listened. For the life of me, I couldn’t bring the name of the big-time coin dealer downtown to my mind while they stood and waited. Good grief! I paused, and repeated that the woman ought to research dealers. (Grrr!! I still couldn’t remember!)

The woman ahead of me gathered her change and left. While I paid for the gallon of milk, the name of the dealer finally came to mind! . . . “Harlan Berk. That’s the name!” The cashier nodded again. “That lady is a regular. I don’t know her name, but I will let her know. I’m sure she’ll be in again, soon.” (For the record, I have never been to that—extremely reputable—coin dealer, in the Loop. I just happened to remember the unusual name.)

God willing, I hope, I pray that the woman will research the dealer she chooses. At least I warned her, and let her know that what she inherited from her elderly relative might very well be worth something!

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Wait for a Delivery

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, February 3, 2014

LOVE John 15-12

In Which I Wait for a Delivery

As I think about how to show love in deed, in action, waiting for a delivery did not immediately leap to my mind. However, here I sit, doing that exact thing. A friend of mine could not be at home today, but the delivery was all set up. So—I said of course I would be available. Certainly, I would wait for the delivery. That’s what friends are for.

I realize that some people absolutely cannot stand sitting around, twiddling their thumbs and tapping their foot. Waiting?? Gah! Irritating! Gosh, what a waste of time. I’m too important for this. Don’t I have a million things I need to get done? (You get the picture.)

That might have been my attitude some years ago. And could possibly be my attitude now, depending. I am not sure. Regardless of now or then, I must admit—I had kind, generous tendencies. At times. As I’ve mentioned already in previous posts, I do have the spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement This waiting-for-a-delivery would very much be something I’d do for a friend or relative. I just never was asked to do this specific kind of thing before.

Being kind—intentionally—involves all sorts of situations. Things. People. This being the month of February, I wanted to display a specific facet of being kind. Yes, showing love. Not the generic, fuzzy, smarmy expressions of love that sometimes are wrapped up in Valentine’s hearts or Hallmark cards, but a real, down-to-earth, even gritty kind of love. Rigorously honest, true blue, genuine.

A few weeks ago, I found a photo online that said “Kindness is just love with its workboots on.” Just so, I have a feeling that God is going to bring me some interesting expressions of love. I mean, acts of kindness and expressions of love to get involved in, this month. God has certainly given me some interesting, touching opportunities so far this year. I know, I know. I did ask God to send me (at least) one way of being kind, every day in 2014. I was the one to open my big mouth.

It isn’t like I was ignorant of what could possibly happen. No, I have seen God work before, during my few decades of being a believer in God. But here, I put myself on the line. One day at a time, each and every day, I ask for my daily marching orders. And each day, something turns up. It’s amazing, but true. (And it’s only the beginning of February.) I’m not certain whether that’s a brilliant brainwave, or a cockamamie, crackpot concept. Whichever it is, it seems to be working. And, I am continuing to receive gratitude, appreciation, and lessons from the people I help. Sometimes (and I’ve talked about this, too) I try not to let them know I have made an attempt to help. I want to put myself out there and be of service. That is, usually. Some of the time. God, help me to make that most of the time. Please.

@chaplaineliza

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Walking with Friends," by Carolee Clark

“Walking with Friends,” by Carolee Clark

Being Kind, Crossing International Borders

Earlier today, I happened to stop on the stairs. I had an unexpected encounter with someone from another country, and I hope I was of service.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll give a little background, and set up the story. As is my habit during the week, I went to the gym to do some stretching and cardio exercise. I had finished a good workout, and started down to the women’s locker room. Halfway down the stairs, I saw a young woman holding an open pamphlet, obviously reading intently. She looked puzzled, and frowned at the piece of paper. I slowed down, since she caught my attention. She glanced up. We smiled at each other. And that’s all it took for her to engage me in conversation.

As it turned out, she held a pamphlet that listed information about GED classes. She trustingly started pouring out her story in accented but fairly good English. She wanted to take a GED course. And then, get her GED to be more prepared to get jobs here in the Chicago area. I encouraged her, and took a look at the pamphlet with her. “Yes,” I said. “The GED class you want is at the high school, on Tuesday night.” She told me about studying English in high school, in her country of origin in South America. Again I smiled and was encouraging. “You speak English really well for taking only a couple of years of classes. I wish I could speak another language as well.” She beamed and nodded her head in gratitude for my words. She was very hesitant about English grammar, it turned out. Plus, she also was enrolled in citizenship classes. I was quite supportive. “That’s great! I wish you the best in both of your classes. God’s blessings in this new year, too.” She smiled even more widely. She wanted to know my name. Elizabeth, I told her. She readily gave me her name. I think I made a new friend!

This is not an isolated incident. I guess I have that kind of appearance that makes me approachable. People come up to me on the street, or when I’m stopped at a stop light. They’ll roll down their window and tell me they’re lost. And, ask directions. Or when I’m standing in line at a grocery store they’ll engage me in conversation. Tell me about personal details of their lives. Believe me, it happens! (My family is endlessly amused, and say that I have that kind of face. Or chaplainly air. Or something.)

In preparation for this year of service, I’ve prayed specifically to be open and willing, each day. As subtext to my month’s service, for January, the verse I have chosen is Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” I think I was kind to this sweet young woman. She and I made a genuine connection. And—I pray that I was of service.

@chaplaineliza