The kindness of strangers…

couple dancing

A woman from my church died in a horrible accident a couple of weeks ago.  When I heard the news, I remembered the kindness of her eyes.  I had given her communion a week or two before she died.  When I’m on communion duty, I take the juice tray and my husband takes the bread.  As someone that is used to the Catholic tradition of having wine for communion, my little plastic cups of grape juice always seem kind of lame.  Instead of sipping sacred wine from a silver goblet, you get a little pill cup-size squirt of Welch’s.  The band is playing while people come up (or don’t come up, it’s a low pressure kind of place) to take communion, it’s pretty loud and people have to lean in if they want to hear what I’m saying.  I’m a sucker for ritual, so I take their elbow, or their shoulder, and they lean their head towards mine as I give a blessing, “The blood of Christ, shed for you.”  If the person doesn’t seem to be itching to get away real fast, I add, “May you feel His love.”  What I remember about the woman that died is that her eyes smiled at me.  Not everyone’s do – most look down, some are closed in prayer and many are just eager to get back to their seat.  But she looked me in the eyes and smiled.  She truly received communion.  I am so honored that I was able to give her communion a few times, it wasn’t much, I doubt she knew my name.  Some people receive with an amount of grace that shines back on the giver.  I know that I was just as touched, if not more, by how she received the communion than she was by my little offering of juice.

A mother once told me that she was on her last nerve with her kid at the park one day.  She found herself screaming at her four year old, “why are you acting like a two year old?!”  One of those unanswerable questions we parents ask when we don’t know what else to do.  Her kid was throwing a tantrum and she had squatted down to look her child into the eyes and try to reason with her (while screaming, because that’s the kind of thing you find yourself doing when you have a four year old – or a fourteen year old).  She fell backward and landed on her bottom.  She said she just gave up, sitting on the sidewalk next to a screaming child- trying to think of what to do next.  A woman walked over and offered them each a water bottle.  The child was so startled she stopped screaming.  The mom was so startled, she scrambled to get up.  The kind stranger lead them over to a bench and said, “it’s so hard, isn’t it?”  and both the mom and her kid said, “yes.”  And they were grateful for the kindness, and the distraction.  The mom told me it felt like an angel showed up that day.

We have these opportunities in life to show up for each other, to be angels for one another.  There probably won’t be trumpets blaring or wings flapping.  Maybe all we have to offer is plastic cups of juice or some water.  But I believe it’s how we are Christ for each other.  Or, if that doesn’t fit your beliefs, it’s how we are love for each other.  These small gestures are often all we have to give, and, often, exactly what is needed.  Each day being another opportunity to be kindness or to receive the kindness of others.

Peace be with you.

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