A few years ago, a new movie came out called Pay it Forward, (I looked it up - it was actually 8 years!) and with it a whole movement of Random Acts of Kindness. I don't know about you, but I have to be reminded sometimes not to get so caught up in my own little world. It is especially difficult when I am busy not to notice the needs of those around me. I have recently started watching Oprah's Big Give on abc.com, and it has really moved me. While I don't have a pile of money to give away, I have limitless resources such as a smile, a kind word, a thoughtful act.
At home finding these opportunities is easy - being gentle when someone has offended or done a wrong. Let's clarify to say the finding is easy, the acting is not. I think Jesus gave us the ultimate example of paying it forward, in laying down His life for us that we might in turn lay it down for others. If I can look at it in these terms instead of a religious obligation, it is a blessing and not a burden.
Yesterday was a long day, and I found an opportunity near the end of it to pay it forward. I really didn't want to. We had gotten up and rushed off early in the morning with much chaos at home for what turned into an almost 5 hour rehearsal. I stayed in the city instead of coming home, and ran some errands = no down time. Then we had to be back at the co-op building for ballroom dance classes. In the midst of all that I had about 800 emails (not an exaggeration) in my inbox that I knew I needed to sort through, 100 blurbs to write, and a ton of other things I've been flagging and backlogging during the busy week - although I've still managed to work my regular hours. I wanted to turn on my laptop and utilize that time to work through my emails just so I wouldn't have it to deal with when I got home at 11 that night. But I had promised to talk to the kids, 10 and 11 year old boys and girls that are helping to serve food at the ballroom dance tonight, about proper etiquette for servers. They were all bouncing off the walls, jumping rope, wrestling, running up and down the halls - and for most of the adults there this meant trouble. There was one boy in particular that slammed a couple of girls to the ground, in his zeal to steal a jumprope. Their energy level was only increasing. They did sit still for a five minute talk about how the serving was going to work, and various random things I could think of like how not to put your thumb in the plate you are carrying, etc. although I doubt much of it stuck. Then it occurred to me that there was a big empty playground outside. The weather was perfect. I decided to put my work aside for a while, and take the kids out into the beautiful evening weather. I sat on a huge wooden swing by the playground that is under a canopy of majestic trees with these kids who were just so fantastic. Different girls came and sat with me sporadically and told me how weird they thought my son was, how they don't like snakes, and a various assortment of topics. I overlooked a lot of things that other adults would never let them do, and watched with delight while they overturned a plastic hippo in search of salamanders, some of the girls getting brave enough to reach in and get them and run let them outside the fence so that the boys couldn't get them (they were saving them). There were several rounds of Hide'n' Go Seek in the fading light. It was some leisure, taking in the beauty of childhood in a gorgeous setting, and a chance to just sit and breathe in and out. There were no expectations. I just got to hang out with 8 pretty terrific kids on a beautiful evening. I thought I was doing something nice for them, but I think I am the one who benefited the most from our evening on the playground.