"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."--Mother Teresa
As I was filling my car up with gas the other day, I heard a commotion on the other side of the pump. At first I focused on what I was doing, intent on minding my own business.
I'm not good at minding my own business.
I looked over my shoulder and didn't quite understand what I was seeing. A walker-like contraption with wheels lodged on its side beneath the front tire of a truck. A man clung to the driver's door as his legs twisted out beneath him at odd angles on a patch of ice, a leg brace dangled from his left shin. His left hand clung to the bottom of his open door while his right hand struggled to grasp the driver's seat. His wife--stiff with a back brace of her own--tried unsuccessfully to help him up. With his head bent, I heard him cry.
Not exactly a powerhouse of muscle myself, I was uncertain about what I could do...but I stepped over the gas hose and asked, "what can I do to help?"
The wife looked at me with uncertainty on her face before looking back at her husband sprawled on the ice, his legs useless. "He has a neurological problem (at least that's what I think she said because she said it in a nervous rush of breath). He can't feel his legs. I should have made him stay in the truck," she said as she glanced at her own brace around her waist. "I'm not sure what to do."
Conscious of the ice and the stupid slip-on shoes I had put on during my usual rush from the house, I bent down, wrapped my arms around his waist and tried to pull him up. He kept his head bent, not making eye contact with me, but I couldn't help but notice his tears. This was a big guy, but he couldn't stand on his own. He wasn't old, perhaps only a few years older than me. Together--after a lot of experimentation about what hand and what leg went where--we maneuvered him back inside the truck.
When he finally looked at me, he apologized. For what? For being a human in need?
Why is it that kindness is such a rare thing that we don't necessarily know how to act when we receive it? We're all in this together, one way or another. Helping another needs to be our first instinct with zero hesitation. Receiving kindness needs to be seen as receiving a gift, rather than something to be shocked or embarrassed by.
But I get it. I understand that momentary confusion when someone extends a helping hand or a stranger offers a kind word. I, too, have been shocked at the kindness of another. Why? Have we really become so desensitized that we as a society don't care about the guy who needs a hand up? Have we become so jaded to be shocked at random acts of kindness?
I am glad I didn't mind my own business. I am happy that I looked over my shoulder to check out the commotion behind me. It would have been easy to drive away without getting involved in that situation. I was touched profoundly by that big guy who simply needed an extra pair of legs to help boost him up. To him, wherever he may be, I say thank you for the reminder.