Do Unto Others

That one act of kindness started a chain reaction in my soul is really a kind of miracle.

Posted in , Jan 28, 2014

A young man shoveling deep snow

When I woke up last week, I looked out the window and saw nothing but white–the entire yard was blanketed with snow and ice. It wasn’t a surprise; the newscasters had been forecasting the winter storm for days.

I groaned, anticipating the struggle of clearing my long walkways to the street, both front and back. The weather had been very mild until that day, but now winter was here in all its glory.

In years past I had jumped into the task at hand, shoveling myself out without too much effort, but this year the task seemed enormous. The older I get, the harder the job becomes. It had been getting harder and harder every year since I’d had back surgery a few years ago. I was dreading the task before me.

I fixed myself some breakfast and lingered over the second cup of coffee, postponing the dreaded exercise as long as possible. I knew I’d have to get to work soon or the mail carrier would have trouble getting to my front porch where my mailbox is.

Then I heard a noise in the backyard. When I looked out the window again, I was surprised to see my young neighbor shoveling my walkway. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Although I knew those neighbors well, we didn’t spend much time together. I waved at them when I saw them walking their dogs several times each day, and I chatted with the wife at times when we saw each other in the yard, but other than that, we didn’t socialize. They are much younger than me.

Quickly, I fixed a cup of hot chocolate and took it downstairs to the back door.

When I opened the door, Gary stopped his work and gratefully accepted the hot cup I extended to him. I tried to thank him, but he said it was nothing. Nothing! It was a miracle for me.

When he finished his hot chocolate, he went right back to work, finishing a wide path to the street. Now I’d be able to get the garbage can out for the trash truck to pick up the next day.

Then he went around to the front and repeated his labors, making a path for my mail delivery. Shoveling wasn’t an easy job because on top of the snow was a solid sheet of ice, making the walkways and streets treacherous. But that didn’t stop Gary; he worked hard until the job was finished.

Then I saw him go to the house on the other side of his own, where another elderly widow lived, and repeat his efforts. And when it was all finished, he got in his car and drove to work. His wife Cathy also left for her job.

What could I do to repay their kindness? I decided to make a big pot of soup for their supper. All day I peeled and chopped vegetables and browned beef to stew. When it was finished in the afternoon, I felt good. Cathy would not have to fix a meal when she came home from work, and hot soup would hit the spot on such a cold day.

But the street between our houses was still very icy, and I am not too steady on my feet. I was afraid I would not be able to deliver my offering to them safely. So when I saw Cathy come home, I called and told her I had some soup for them. When she came over to pick up the soup, she seemed as grateful as I felt when I saw her husband shoveling my walkways. It was a small thing I had done–much smaller in my mind than the gigantic blessing they had given me.

After Cathy left, I started thinking of what else I could do to help others in difficult times. I saw the mail truck come slipping and sliding down the street. The temperature had plummeted to the teens and immediately I felt sorry for the mail carrier, having to deliver mail and walking on icy sidewalks in the freezing cold. Again I fixed a cup of hot chocolate and presented it to him as he handed me my mail. He was surprised, but very grateful.

For the rest of the week, I met him with a cup of hot chocolate when he delivered my mail, and he said to me, “You are a blessing.” His words warmed my whole spirit.

It wasn’t much to do, but it seemed like a lot to that young mail carrier.

Now I am constantly looking for ways to make others happy, especially those people we take for granted every day. Gary had started a chain reaction in my soul. By helping me out without being asked, he sparked a similar feeling within me.

Who knows who the mail carrier will help along his way? It’s really a kind of miracle, don’t you think?

I don’t know who else will come along who might appreciate a helping hand, but at least now I am consciously aware of those I meet. In fact, it gives me joy to watch for opportunities to help someone else, especially someone I might not have even noticed in the past. Because of my age and health, there are always some things I’m not able to do, but often enough I can do something to lift another’s spirit.

This story originally appeared in When Miracles Happen.

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