Just when you think you’re alone in your journey and the negativity in the world seems too much, God sends a little messenger to tell you it's not so. As cliché as it is, timing is truly everything, isn’t it?
Just now, at about 1:00 this Saturday afternoon, I walked out my front door after a morning of house cleaning and strong coffee to get the mail. Much to my surprise there was a man on my front lawn. Who was he and what was he doing? I wondered both. And then (yes, laugh) I was embarrassed because I was still in my pajamas (who needs couture when you’re scrubbing the floor)! But then I realized just exactly what it was he was doing, and my embarrassment turned into gratitude…
Crouched down on his hands and knees in the grass, he was picking up the garbage that the wind blew into my yard that very morning from the trash pick up. It wasn’t my garbage. It wasn’t his garbage. It wasn’t even his lawn. And in his mind, I am sure he knew there probably wasn’t going to be some sort of acknowledgement or reward. But here he was doing it anyway, and he was just fine with that. My neighbor from down the street was picking up other people’s trash because it was the right thing to do… the kind thing to do. He was paying it forward.
I think he was just as surprised as I was by the fact that I saw him. Who knows how many times I’ve come home to a perfect lawn after trash day because of him? I am sure it wasn’t his first random act of kindness.
So straight away, I called out to him, “Oh, wow... Thank you so much!”
He looked up from his perch on the grass and smiled. “You’re welcome,” he replied. And then he finished his good deed, nodded at me, and walked back toward his home. A large pile of garbage heaped in his arms.
It was as simple and straight forward as that.
Afterward, I was left smiling from ear to ear and felt incredibly humbled by his kindness. I could hardly make it down my driveway to get my mail. I was smiling that hard. I felt sort of unworthy of his quiet kindness, but I felt blessed by it just the same.
When I got inside, I was left wondering, how do I thank him beyond my words? How do I show that I am truly grateful for his simple act? Of course, the answer came to me quite quickly. I’d share it with you all, and then I’d be sure to "pay it forward" for a stranger this weekend. It will be part of my “adding something.”
Right now, as I am typing, I am also realizing that what he did really is a beautiful metaphor for all of us. We’ve all got garbage, don’t we? Sometimes it’s because of our doing, and sometimes the world blows it into our lives without our knowledge. But as people of substance, we can do something great. As we are picking up our own garbage, we are given a wonderful opportunity to pick up the garbage of others, whether they know it or not. We can walk into their lives, see what needs picking up, and do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the kind thing to do, whether they see us doing it or not.
So, two things more before I leave you to your weekend…
First, to my neighbor, thank you for what you did. It was small, but it was big. You don’t know it, but your random act of kindness inspired me and blessed me. And now, hopefully, it’s blessing others.
And finally, I have to know, readers... What random acts of kindness have you experienced or done for others? Please share! Your comments mean so much, especially on a topic like this.