At some point in all of our lives, a thing happens to make us feel unglued. Something that takes us out of the comfort and lull of the daily routine and into unfamiliar territory. An illness, a health scare, a profound disappointment, loss, a diagnosis or death. Even the birth of a baby, something unparalleled in its joy, can throw us for a loop. These events can sneak up on you or overwhelm you all at once, taking what you thought you knew and turning it inside out.
Knowing this – that we’ll all be there – can make us fearful, or it can empower us with empathy and compassion. It can remind us what community means. Whatever that looks like. It can turn us into the kind of people who do something when it would be just as easy (even easier) to do nothing.
We’ve seen it happen. We’ve seen our neighbors organize meals for a family whose daughter was stricken with the frightening, thankfully temporary, Guillain-Barre syndrome
. There were meals, baskets of snacks and treats for the little girl’s siblings, drawings from our children, money for housecleaning, even a team of moms who mobilized to decorate their house for the holidays. And when the little girl was ready to come home after 10 weeks in a children’s hospital, her yard was decorated with homecoming signs, balloons and a box full of love notes.
There were the people who pitched in to mow the lawn, pick up the mail, take care of the dogs, even plant flowers when a neighbor’s mother was dying three states away and he needed to be by her side.
Or the couple who adopted their little girl from China and came back to a surprise baby shower at work and a little extra time off. We’ve been touched by the people who have offered prayers and cards when a loved one was sick, who help with the kids or carpool when we’re under the weather and the friend who comes by to get you out of the house when nothing else seems to help.
These are the things that save us big and small.
In fact, there’s an entire organization devoted to ‘inspiring people to practice kindness and pass it on to others’ calledrandomactsofkindness.org
. Check it out with the expectation that you will need Kleenex. We love the articles about teaching children emotional intelligence, compassion and kindness. And we especially love the idea that kindness is contagious.
Practice it with the people you love. Practice it with people you’ve just met. Maybe pass it on to complete strangers. And what we’ve found personally is that somehow, what goes around always seems to come back around when we need it most.