It Started With A Peppermint

Today was a day for running errands; lots of errands, things that just couldn’t wait any longer.  My mother and I set off and began fulfilling the things on our to-do list.  One of our errands included a time of waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more!  Groan!  Would the waiting ever end?  Others were waiting, too.  It was a room filled with boredom, frustration, and growing tension.  Don’t you hate waiting and waiting with no apparent end in sight?

I was sitting on one side of my mother and a young man sat on her other side.  All seats everywhere were filled.  At one point my mother asks me for a mint.  I fish around in my handbag and retrieve a small wrapped peppermint.  She takes it and I pay no further attention.  I don’t see that the wrapper is difficult to open until I hear a voice say, “may I open that for you?”  It was the young man.

I leaned forward and watched as he quickly snapped open the wrapper and handed it back to my Mom.  “I didn’t touch it,” he said, “I’m holding it with the wrapper.

“Yes, I see you are,” answers my mother, “thank you so much.”

“It’s the little things that can be tough,” he said.

From that moment he and my mother began a conversation filled with chuckles and smiles.  Just listening to them made me smile, too.  I glanced at others sitting nearby.  They were caught up in the conversation and grinning at their lighthearted chatter.  There was definitely a lessening of stress in the air and it all started with the simple kindness of opening a peppermint wrapper.

Is kindness that important?  God says something about kindness in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God though Christ has forgiven you.”

There is nothing in God’s Word that is insignificant.  It’s all equally important.  Therefore, when we have opportunity to obey God’s instruction to simply be kind to someone, we are honoring both God and our fellow man.  One simple kindness blessed, not only my mother, but everyone who could hear the ensuing conversation.  Many people,  who at first appeared as if boredom could be the end of them, were uplifted.  One by one as someone would leave, they would wave, wish everyone well, and we all happily waved and smiled in return.  It turned out to be a lovely afternoon.

There are many things that each of us cannot do, but all of us can “be kind to each other.”  We don’t know what’s going on in someones life, but it might be that a simple kindness could be the difference between hope and despair.  Kindness is never insignificant.

The Lady On The Train

The past several posts I’ve been walking down memory lane.  I can tell you why.  I’m working on my next book which will be a collection of stories from my travels.  I hope you will enjoy it.  Today I take you with me on a journey that took place nearly 37 years ago.

I was embarking on my first overseas trip as an adult.  I flew from Atlanta to New York; from New York to Iceland, and from Iceland to Germany.  I was met by a couple (whom I had never met) who had instructions to put me on a train bound for Salzburg, Austria.  I was led to a compartment with six seats, three on each side.  I sat in a middle seat and was told that my reservation would take me all the way to my destination.  I was to learn that this was a mistake.

As the train eased forward, my tired body fell in with its rhythm and I dozed off and on.  At times the train would stop at stations along the way, letting off some passengers while taking on others.  At one such stop, a man opened the door to our compartment.  He looked at his ticket, looked at me, and said something in German.  I didn’t know a word of what he said, but I sensed it was not good.  The man left, but returned with the conductor who also said something to me that I couldn’t understand.  “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak German,” I heard my nervous voice speak.  The conductor then pointed to me and the aisle outside.  I understood the gesture and got up to leave.  The conductor took down my two suitcases from the overhead and set them outside.  The man with the ticket took my seat.  The conductor left.  I didn’t know where to go or even how to ask what I should do now, so I sat where I was.  I was balancing atop my suitcases, looking into the compartment with six people looking back at me.  Awkward!

Suddenly the woman who had sat opposite me stood and left the compartment.  I watched her disappear down the aisle.  In minutes she returned with the conductor.  She motioned for me to get up.  I did.  The conductor picked up my two cases and we followed the woman.   We passed through several carriages until we came to a particular compartment — in the first class section!  She opened the door and motioned for me to go inside.  I wanted to politely protest, to explain that I couldn’t sit there, but I could not speak the language, so I did as I was gestured to do.  I sat in one seat and the woman sat next me.  She smiled.  I smiled in return.   For hours we sat in companionable silence, me dozing off and on while she browsed through a magazine.  At one point when the train stopped, the woman stood up.  Impulsively I stood, too.  The woman motioned no and gestured for me to sit down again.  I did.  She smiled, waved, and was gone.  The conductor never returned and I sat safely for the rest of my journey.  I can only deduce that the woman purchased first class tickets for both me and herself.  What kindness!

I have experienced many such acts of kindness from strangers coming to my aid in my journeys, and I have had the opportunity of being that stranger to aid someone else.  It’s part of the thrill of traveling to new places, and it provides opportunity to,  “Be kind to one another…”  Ephesians 4:32  The power of kindness cannot be measured.

I was 23, alone, and traveling through a country where I didn’t speak the language, going to a place I had never been, but God had a stranger ready to help.  We never need fear when God leads us to unknown places; after all, it is Him who is in the navigator’s seat and, “He knows the way that I take…”  Job 23:10

 

Are You Imitating Anyone?

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of her husband with one of their little children.  They were outside; her husband stretched out in a lawn chair, and next to him, his little boy stretched out in another lawn chair.  What caught my attention — was the imitation.  The little boy was obviously attempting to sit in the exact manner as his father.   Of course, it wasn’t the same.  His little legs couldn’t stretch out as far, he wasn’t tall enough for his head to reach the top of the lawn chair, and his arms were not making the exact pose.  Nonetheless, the attempt to imitate his father was most obvious.

I stared at this very cute photo.  Something began to stir within me.  I began to wonder, as Christians, is it obvious to others that, we, too, are doing our best to imitate Jesus?  Are we trying our best to walk in the manner of His actions?  Are we making noticeable attempt to talk like Him?  Can others see Jesus in us?

Like the little boy, trying his best to copy his Dad, but not able to get it just right, you and I won’t get it just right, either.  But, oh, the joy that comes with the trying.  When we are doing our best to imitate Jesus, the smile on our faces, the inner peace in our hearts, the sheer joy of making the attempt, will be just like the little boy in the lawn chair.

Let’s remember the passage of Scripture found in Ephesians 4:32-5:2, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ, forgave you.  Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

Isn’t that amazing, to think that when we imitate Jesus, our attempts are sweet-smelling to our Heavenly Father.

It’s also a lovely picture to those who may be observing us.  Be assured — someone, somewhere, is watching how we imitate the One we claim to love so much.  Let’s try, with God’s own help, to make the  picture they will see, a sweet, touching attempt, like the little boy in the lawn chair.