Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kindness is Never Wasted

Q: What do Kickboxing, Spilled Sour Cream, Police Crashing Parties, Dan Akroyd and The Virgin Mary have in common?      A: My Day

And what a day it was!  It began with a sinking feeling of dread.  Which was brought on by the thought of having to get out of bed on a Saturday morning to get myself to the gym for an aerobic kickboxing class (the 2nd of two classes I committed to this week).   The class consisted of the instructor, myself and one other student, apparently everyone else was wise enough to stay in bed.  So for 50 minutes we kicked, punched, sweated, cramped, huffed and puffed our way through the class.  Kudos to the instructor for staying so positive and motivated with only two students, both of whom were less than adept at the class.

As I was leaving the gym, I caught up to the other student as we were walking out the main doors.  I made a joke about her wisdom in using the button to automate the opening of the doors, as our energy to do it manually was exhausted.  She then asked me where I resided. I told her where I lived and hen her the same.  She explained and then told me how the police arrived at her door the night before, because the 5 other people she shares the house with had a party and there were complaints.  She did not seem thrilled with this at all.  I offered to drive her home and she readily accepted.  In our conversations I suggested that if she was looking for a quieter place next year to let me know, as I know a place, that may be a little quieter. I went on to mention that it currently had a number of Christians living there - to which she exclaimed - "Oh my people!".  At that, I let her in on the fact that I was the chaplain at the school she attends and the Associate Pastor of the church down the road.  This led to more conversation and me showing her where our church was and inviting her to join us the next day for Sunday service.  To my delight she did indeed join us for Sunday service and then an afternoon together and dinner with the young adults.  In further discussion we agreed that it was certainly a God thing - a divine appointment that brought us together that day. 

The divine appointments did not end there however.  After the gym I went to a lovely baby shower for a couple from our church.  On the way home, I was exhausted and looking forward to lying down and doing nothing.  First I had to stop and pick up groceries for the supper I would be preparing the next day for 22 people.  When I finally pulled in to my apartment, I followed someone to our back parking lot.  As I watched them pull up to the curb, I wondered what they were doing, and then realized she had a vehicle full of groceries.

So with a box full of groceries myself I walked up and unlocked the door, my first thought was just to get my tired self up to my place, but instead I decided (perhaps hesitantly), to hold the door open for the woman as she carried in a couple loads of groceries.  When she arrived with the first round she thanked me, to which I responded no problem.  As soon as those words left mouth, it became a problem, as the large container of sour cream toppled out of the box I was holding and smashed into the hall carpet below, leaving sour cream seeping into the grooves of the all weather carpet mat.  The woman was apologetic as if she had picked it out of my box and thrown it to the ground herself. She was appalled that I would have to suffer so much for my kindness. I explained it was not a big deal, not to worry, I would simply run up to my apartment to get some cleaner to wipe it up.  As I made my way back down she was coming in with the 2nd and last load of groceries.  So I held the door and then continued to try to clean the sour cream out of the carpet.  As I did so, the woman took a seat on the step and started engaging me in casual conversation.  Which floor did I live on? Was I from Kingston?  Was I married? Did I have children?.  She shared that she was from Columbia but had been in Canada for a few years and was now facing some changes and did not really know anyone.  She then asked what I did for a living.  When I told her I was a pastor, she was pleasantly surprised, and then added that she herself was "very religious". She asked what church I served at and then inquired about what "Free Methodism" was.  She asked if I believed in the Virgin Mary and the Saints, and if I prayed to them. I told her that I did indeed believe in the Virgin Mary and the saints, but that I did not pray to them.  Following this - she invited me to her apartment for an authentic Colombian supper, saying we should continue our conversation, and without hesitation I agreed. As I wiped the last of the sour cream out of the grooves of the carpet, I offered to help her carry her groceries to her apartment.  As we sat the last of the bags down in her kitchen, I explained that I was going to go to my apartment to get cleaned up and would be back momentarily.

As I entered my apartment, I was suddenly startled by what I had done.  Who agrees to go to a complete strangers house for dinner on a moments notice?  Then crazy notions went  through my head; things like, what if she was a lesbian and was hitting on me, (and I just unwittingly committed myself to some sort of awkward date). Or what if she is a serial killer who is going to drug my food and leave me locked up in her apartment. I did say they were crazy thoughts. Obviously this was a situation way out of my comfort zone and not something I usually did. But I had already committed myself, so off I went to either my surprise or my demise.

Let me tell you, that it was an incredible evening!  She was a lovely lady with legitimate, incredible stories of her wealthy life in Columbia and an uncle about to be canonized by the Pope.  Stories of how Dan Akyrod was responsible for her coming to Canada.  The meal was delicious, the company delightful.

With supper over and I quite comfortable with the situation now, actually invigorated by it, I invited her to my apartment for tea and continued conversation. We talked about God for hours, the Virgin Mary, Prayer, The Holy Spirit, Reading the Bible.  She told me about her various spiritual experiences, shared about her Catholic faith and we discussed the different nuances in our beliefs.  She told me about her family back home, her recent struggles and her heartbreak. She asked for advice, asked lots of questions about faith and God and God's will.  At the end of the evening she left with my older, overly highlighted, back cover missing, Charles Swindol Study Bible and a copy of the Shack to read.  I explained that the Shack was not a theological diatribe, it was not fact, nor necessarily biblically accurate, but much like her appreciation for fine art, it painted a beautiful interpretation of the trinity that I thought she would appreciate.

There is so much more to tell, but for the sake of confidences I leave it at this.  I have made a wonderful new friend, who incidentally can teach me Spanish, and is also a fan of clean/healthy eating, which helps me to complete #26 of my 36-4-36 challenges.  These events have also been confirmation for me I think, for the subject of the book I am going to write in response to challenge #2.

My day ended, with God showing me how a little kindness and selflessness, no matter how insignificant, can not only bless your day, but perhaps your life and the life of someone else. No Amount of Kindness is ever Wasted.

I've accomplished quite a bit in the first 10 days of my 36-4-36 challenge.  Each day an encouragement card was mailed, I've been going to the gym, and being more intentional, more often, at choosing clean eating options. My books arrived from Indigo.  I invited a new person to church and they came (Technically a lot of new people I connected with at at college came but that just seems to easy) and I've been recycling both at home and work :D

355 days to go, and if giving up TV and investing more in God and people continues to provide results like I have seen already, I'm in for an incredible year.

1 comment:

  1. It is amazing to me how easy it is to get into the mode of doing that we forget to just be present with people where we are. Thanks for sharing this... it's a good reminder that every act of kindness is eternally significant.