I was in the vitamin aisle wondering if I had enough money to buy my vitamins or if I should wait until I had a secure income. I knew I was going to have to borrow money to make rent and wondered if the vitamins went on the necessity list or the “want” list. Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw her. She was sitting on the metal bench at the pharmacy. She was in her pajamas, talking on her cell phone and trying her best to wipe the tears away so others would not notice.
It was the day after Thanksgiving and shoppers were rushing by trying to get the best Christmas sales. There was a general air of jolliness as the people passed, scurrying to get their errands done. But there was no happiness in her face. Our eyes met and for that brief moment, I saw the pain, the sadness, that desperate air of wanting to do…something and not knowing what to do. It tugged at my heart. I recognized that pain and that look in her eyes. I have known it all too well.
Feeling shy and indecisive, I turned away. Wasn’t that the polite thing to do when someone was hurting? I mean, you don’t just walk up and hug a stranger. I turned and looked at her again and then made up my mind. There are times when you need to reach beyond your comfort zone.
Walking over to the flowers, I purchased a bouquet and then quickly made my way back hoping she was still there. She was pacing in front of the pharmacy waiting for her prescription to be filled. Nervously, I walked up to her and handed her the flowers and said “Whatever it is, I hope it gets better soon. Merry Christmas.” And then suddenly feeling a great deal of love, I reached out and hugged her and she hugged me back. “Thank you,” she said quietly. I looked in her eyes and though there were tears, I also saw surprise and something else…hope. I turned and walked away and as I did so, she called out “Merry Christmas!” I smiled and disappeared. For the rest of the day, the memory of her brave smile and sudden “Merry Christmas” stayed in my mind and I felt as if my own worries and burdens had somehow been lifted.
I do not tell you this story to make myself look like something I am not. I tell you this story as a reminder that the best thing we can do to feel better about our own situations in life is to reach out and offer love, compassion and service to others. If random acts of kindness were the hallmark of our society, there would not be so much sadness, so much anger and so much hatred.
So when you feel as if despair has taken hold and you can’t see outside of yourself, do me one favor…look around, find someone who needs a hand of compassion and reach out with love. I promise you that your own burdens will seem lifted in return. Love sent to you all…