Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.~Dalai Lama
…as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.Matthew 25:40
Saturday morning, I awoke to find myself with several tasks and very little time to do them. The most pressing, in my mind, was the removal of leaves from our yard. I was expecting heavy rain on Sunday and I did not want to deal with both the clogged street gutter and pounds of wet tree debris. So I hustled on out into the brisk morning and found the task not all that tiresome, but still time-consuming. Regardless, the point of this post is not to bore you with ordinary yard work, but to relate a life lesson…at least for me.
About halfway through my task, I noticed a young woman and, presumably, her son walking down our street. Now, our street is not situated to invite a lot of foot traffic, unless of course you live in the neighborhood. And another odd thing was that they eschewed the sidewalk, preferring to saunter down the middle of the road. I continued in my raking and bagging until the woman approached me to ask for directions. In an effort to assist her I asked her where she was going and the address was rather far away still I proceeded to give her the best directions that I could. She said thank you and walked away, child in tow. I watched them walk away and wrestled heavily with the thought of calling out for them to stop, offering to take them in my car to their destination given the lengthy distance to their destination. Several times I put my rake down only to stifle my own good nature and resume raking. This moment has haunted me for three days now and I still wish that I had done more than just provide directions.
Several people have weighed in with their own concerns ranging from my personal safety, to the thought that I will one day be presented with a similar opportunity and will have knowledge to make that decision, to the lady and her child preferred the exercise. All of these are valid points, some having more bearing than others on my conscience. Yet, I still can’t get the image of those two people walking away slowly, probably desperately looking for someone to help and directions was all that I offered. I still consider it to be a lost opportunity to be a light in a dark world and I probably won’t soon forget that experience.
I’d be interested in other opinions, but I don’t expect that any of them will change my feelings on the experience. They will merely assist in, hopefully, softening the devastation I felt at not being a compassionate human being; to fail at the most basic level of kindness.