Mary was strolling home from school one day when she noticed the girl ahead of her had tripped and dropped all of the books she was carrying, along with two sweaters, a hockey stick, a glove and a small tape recorder.
She knelt and helped the girl pick up the scattered items. Since they were going the same way, she helped to carry part of the package. As they walked, Mary discovered the girl’s name was Bilha, that she loved documentaries, hockey and geography, and that she was having lots of struggle with her other subjects. They arrived at Bilha’s home first, and Mary was invited in for a Coke and to watch television. The afternoon passed charmingly with a few chuckles and some shared small talk; then Mary went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, then both finished high school. They ended up in the same college where they had brief contacts over the years.
Finally, the long-awaited final year came, and three weeks before graduation, Bilha asked Mary if they could talk.
Bilha reminded her of the day years ago when they had first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?” asked Bilha.
“You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mother’s sleeping pills, and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. So you see, Mary, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more, you saved my life.”
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
I periodically shudder when I remember the times when I was in a position to offer kindness but faltered. My extended arm would have saved a situation. I am not sin-conscious as I say this but am thoughtful.
There are times; I can remember when I was supposed to say ‘thank you’, but it was too late. There are occasions I wonder what would have happened if I said ‘sorry, forgive me, please, kindly…’ How many times I ignored a brother in distress, a sister in distrust, and a neighbour in a dismal ditch.
The naïve and nascent things we do to others matter a lot. Do you recall times when you wish and hope for help from people around you and what you get is zilch?
People go around carrying both light and onerous burdens and probably what they need is something within our reach – company. As I write this, I am examining myself too, and being honest; I have been poor at extending my company.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32 (ESV).