Little “happenings” during a 24 hour period can make a day special. They become snap-shots in my mind that I can look back on in quiet moments and they serve to bring a smile to my face.
With no car, I walk to the office, where I work, and to St. Mary's, where I go to church. I’ve taken to saying “Good Morning” or “Hello” to the people I pass on the way. As I’ve been doing this over the last couple of months I have come to recognise the “regulars.”
- Young Asian Mums / Dads accompanying their princesses daughters and rambunctious sons to school;
- A trio of ladies with a Lhasa Apso puppy;
- Dave, doggy-daddy to two Jack Russell terriers (Cassie who is white and wire-haired, and Beau, a brown, smooth-coat.);
- the lady who rides the bicycle;
- Polish grandmas on their way to mass at Holy Family Catholic church.
Another regular is Colleen. Like me, she immigrated to the UK, only she is from the Caribbean. Just about five-feet tall, and skin the colour of milk chocolate, Colleen’s colourful dress-sense belies that she is in her 70’s. Her bright spirit is ageless, and her smile shines with joy. After we had swapped “hello’s” a couple of times, one day, I added, “God bless you.” She replied, “And God bless you too My Sister.” More than once we have stopped a chatted a few minutes, to share words of blessings and learn each other’s name. Twice a week she goes into town to volunteer as a prayer partner for a call-in prayer line. It was just a little thing, a smiled greeting, which opened the door to friendship.
May Day Sunday I was on my way to church. Trees had come into their green spring wardrobe, making shade for the pavement called “Green Drive”. The pedestrian/bike path that connects two main roads was in good use by worshippers leaving the Catholic Church, dog walkers and others going to the shops for Sunday newspapers. Once again, I was enjoying the warm, sunny day, greeting people along the way. From most a smile and “Hello” was returned.
As I neared Langley Road, I noticed a black woman chatting with her two sons-who looked to be young teen-agers. They were walking in the opposite direction of the way I was going. As I got near, I said, “Good Morning”. She turned to me with a smile, and I heard “Africa” in her accented reply. “Oh, yes, Good Morning Mama!” She was a stranger, yet responded to my humble act of greeting. She included me in her community. Her culture acknowledged that my gray hair revealed my maturity and had called me by a name that gave me her respect. That little thing flooded my heart with joy.
Little things add value to other people’s lives as well. In the 1990’s when returning home from my missionary travels, I would stay with my Mom. We were very close, and had similar personalities. One day we were eating lunch, watching the mid-day news. One report highlighted the importance of meaningful touch for older people. I remember touching Mom on the arm, but using one finger—more of a poke. She looked at me and I explained, “I was giving you a meaningful touch.”
It is nearly three years since Mom died. I miss her. So I appreciate my “adopted” Mum’s here. These are ladies with whom I attend church. I have made giving them a greeting and a hug an intentional action.
On Mondays and Thursdays I see “Miss A.” when I get the newspaper for her from the shops. It is important to me that I sit down and chat with her once I get there. I often take Maisy with me, and “Miss A.” loves her. “Miss A.” will often sing part of a song that she remembers, or tell me a little joke. Giggles are normal. I rarely stay for more than 45 to 50 minutes. Before I leave, I give “Miss. A.” a big cuddle. Sad to say, but according to her, I’m the only one who gives her hugs these days. It takes little effort on my part, but it is a non-verbal way that I can show her how much I appreciate and enjoy her.
Little actions add up over time and create something bigger than we can originally imagine. For instance, everyday roots go deeper in the ground to find water and nutrients for the plants above the ground. Some of those plants are trees that produce fruit and shade and beauty to be enjoyed. We don’t realise what is happening on a daily basis. Yet over weeks, months and even years the evidence of those consistent, little, hidden actions becomes apparent.
I tend to forget that in order to get a big reaction, I need to repeatedly and consistently perform tasks that may have a small result individually, but a major result cumulatively.
A genuine smile, accompanied by “Hi!” or “Good Morning.” might seem like nothing. Yet, it is an invitation to connect. The meaning of the action is: “I acknowledge you; I recognise you; you are worthwhile.” The motive is to plant a seed in order to create a sense of community. I become aware of the diverse cultures in my community, and develop a curiosity about the people who live in my area. I may never know the majority of their names—but I am aware that God knows them. And when I pass by the regulars, I am motivated to pray for them.
Some of them will become acquaintances, having taken the time to stop and chat. Depending upon what we chat about, I may respond, “I’ll pray for you.”
Being blessed in so many way, I often berate myself because I don’t accomplish more, haven’t made “Big” differences in the world—like donating enough money and materials to build a school or hospital in a developing nation. Yet, maybe what God really wants me to do is become good at doing the little things, incorporated with His love. Because then it isn’t about me, it becomes about Him.
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,