November 4, 2015

How Small Deeds of Compassion Can Go a Long Way.


“Great acts are made up of small deeds.” ~ Lao Tzu

At this time of year in my hometown the weather is nothing if not changeable. We can have a beautiful, sunny, glorious day followed by a cool, if not cold, wet miserable day.

That’s our spring.

It was on one of those cold, wet days that I ventured out for a business meeting. It had been almost blizzard-like during the night and I didn’t much fancy heading out. But business called and head out I did.

On my way through the city alleyways, coated up and umbrella in hand, I came across a huddled figure attempting to sleep on a landing and shivering from the cold. It was clear he had been there all night.

Being the thoroughfare that it is, there’s no doubt that many had passed him by during the morning. My immediate thought was, “He must be so very cold,” so I headed around the corner to the hole-in-the-wall café and bought a hot chocolate.

I headed back towards him and quietly said, “Hey buddy.” He bolted upright, fear in his eyes and trembling in his hands. “Here, have a hot drink.” His face calmed and his outstretched hand grabbed the hot drink. “Thank you.”

Undeniably, a very simple small deed.

For the rest of the day I thought about him: Was he safe? Did he have shelter? Was he warm? Did he manage to get some food?

I was re-telling this story later in that week and I was asked why I did it. My answer was simple, “Because that’s me.”

Too often in our cities we see these same scenes. What we see is the here and now of those scenes, we have no real concept, understanding or comprehension of how that person came to be there. We make all sorts of assumptions, likely misguided. Whether we’ve become desensitized or we’re too busy, unfortunately, we fail to see the humanity.

When we allow ourselves to truly see these scenes and open ourselves up to them, what we see is someone’s child, someone’s sibling, perhaps even someone’s very difficult and brutal life that has no resemblance to the plans they made or the dreams they held.

That’s me and that’s all of us.

Now as we head into the Christmas countdown the kids are making lists for what Santa might bring them and may even be counting down the nights. The adults are beginning to plan the day, where to go, what to take, what to buy, what to cook and how to make it a cracking Christmas for family and friends.

Yep, I’m in that boat too and am beginning to get caught up in the fervor of it all (I’ll gladly leave the stress behind) and I’m beginning to set all those wheels in motion—it’s bound to be an active, bustling time. I am fortunate indeed.

Your plans for the festive season are no doubt taking shape; whatever the festive season looks like for you, embrace it, seize it, enjoy it.

And maybe along the way you’ll share a hot chocolate with someone’s child.

Relephant favorite:

Compassion: What it Teaches Us About Ourselves.


Author: Grace Di Martino

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/David Blackwell

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