In February, my husband and I travelled to Grand Island, Nebraska, to spend time with my mother-in-law. We celebrated her birthday and played scrabble and had a lovely visit. On a side note, the high temp one day was minus 7. No kidding. I was running an errand there that weekend and felt that need for sugar and caffeine. I waited in a very long line for my coffee and banana bread at Starbucks. As I reached for my credit card, I was told that the person in front of me had paid for my treats. The day seemed much warmer after that.
And then, today happened. Again, my afternoon Starbuck treats were paid for by the person in the line in front of me. Now, maybe this is a thing. Maybe this is happening in other cities and towns. But, inexplicably, this surprise generosity happened to me twice in one month. Thank you, blue sedan. Thank you, silver SUV.
I am reading the book WHERE THE WIND LEADS by Vinh Chung and Tim Downs. This is a memoir based on the experiences of Vinh Chung and his family who were forced out of Vietnam in 1979 and became refugees in the United States. I have yet to finish the book, but it is fast becoming one of the most interesting and impactful memoirs I have ever read.
The forward to this book is written by Richard Stearns who is the president of World Vision U.S. He writes:
"Don’t ever underestimate the difference you can make in the life of one person. What if Nelson Mandela had died in a refugee camp, Mother Teresa had been forced into an early marriage, or Gandhi had died as a child for lack of clean water? One small act today can lead to another and another. Like a line of dominoes, where each one plays a minor but essential role, we can each play a part. It may only take one act to save one life that can change the course of history.”
Richard Stearns, Bellevue, WA
IN NO WAY am I comparing paying for a Starbuck’s coffee to the generosity or sacrifice of Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. However, in our world, in these unsettling times, we need to be reminded that any one of us can make a difference to one person, in one moment, on any one day.
What opportunity did you have today to make a difference? Did you miss it? Did you hesitate because you thought it was too small or inappropriate? Were you frightened to get involved? Think about your day, your week, this year. Where and when could you do one small act of generosity to make a difference?
We have had too many surprises in the last year to even count. Each surprise has been more stressful than the one before. Our community and our country could really use some surprise generosity and surprise kindness right about now. When will you have the chance to surprise someone? BE READY.