Monday, February 3, 2014

A Year of Kindness - Challenge Week 5

So what Kindness did you do last week? My list included simple things like putting away a chair for an elderly student at my Tai Chi class, making an appointment for Rachel's hair, washing an entire hamper of dirty clothes that Becca brought home from college, rescuing a shopping cart that was left abandoned on a grassy median in the grocery store parking lot, and directing a young couple who was staring forlornly at the empty shelf where the Tostitos chips should have been to the floor display in the next aisle over.  I found that when I was being more observant of my life and my surroundings, the opportunity to be of service, both at home and in my community presented itself over and over. None of those acts of kindness cost me anything more than a moment or two of my time (okay, well, except the laundry which took all day on Saturday!). How about you?

It was a week ago today that my friend and neighbor Chris Witte was tragically killed in a hit and run accident in front of her mother's home. I went to her service on Friday evening, along with my husband and two youngest daughters. According to the obituary, the family was accepting condolences from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. with the service beginning at 6:00 p.m.  We arrived at the funeral home around 5:20 p.m. And what we saw was a line of people waiting outside, in the cold, stretched around three sides of the building, just to pay their respects. We waited patiently, with numb toes, for an hour and a half just to get inside the building. And then another half hour + snaking in and out of the space inside the building until we reached the family. In deference to all the other people still waiting, we kept our condolences short. And then we waited for the service which finally started around 8:15 p.m.

I thought about how quick the media was to cover the tragedy of Chris' death, but how sad it was that no media was there to cover the outpouring of love to this family in the wake of their loss. I listened to Chris' daughters speak about  what a great mother they had, of how they just didn't know how they would go on without her. I listened to the minister (also a neighbor) speak about what kind of friend and neighbor Chris had been. And I took the example to heart. Chris was outgoing, extroverted, the first person on the block to knock on your door and introduce herself and welcome you to the neighborhood. She asked, and was genuinely interested, about what was going on in your life. And the next time she saw you, she'd ask for details about something you had long since forgotten you even mentioned to her. She greeted everyone with a smile and wave. She knew most of her customers at the local grocery store by first name. That's just who she was.


I am not Chris. I am a born introvert. I hang on the fringes at parties, waiting to be introduced, rather than taking the initiative of introducing myself.  I express my thoughts and feelings far better with the written word than I ever could hope to do in person. It is not in my nature to be like Chris. But I can take some lessons from her about being a good neighbor.

So this week, my challenge to myself, and to you, is to do a kindness for a neighbor. Someone on your own block or in your own neighborhood. It can be as simple as a bright smile or a wave hello. Maybe you could make a batch of your famous chocolate chip cookies and deliver them in person. Or maybe, if you happen to live anywhere like where I do, you could shovel a bit of their sidewalk when you are done with your own. Or return their fly-away recycling bin to their front porch. Whatever it might be, just reach out, and make your own neighborhood a better place.

8 comments:

Missus Wookie said...

That is a beautiful butterfly and quote. Being observant for doing a kindness is such a good things to do - thanks for the reminder.

Miriam said...

This is such a beautiful post Cheri.

Sian said...

Thought provoking, thoughtful stuff. When my FIL died it was a huge funeral, and it was then I realised how helpful it can be to the bereaved to see everyone turn out for support. Seeing all those faces really helped us get through the day.

Karen said...

Oh Cheri what a lovely post. I am encouraged each week by your kindness and try to take up the challenge of being kind too.

Karen said...

Sian is correct about those huge calling hour lines. It's so important to be there even if you can only say a few words. All of us can learn a lesson here I'm sure.

scrappyjacky said...

A lovely post,Cheri...I'll be trying to be neighbourly this week.

Melissa said...

I made a point last Saturday (while we were traveling) to put into practice the smile challenge from the previous week. I smiled at the convenience store clerk, the drive-through cashier, the lady leaving the restroom as I was entering, etc, etc - it was fun to challenge myself to be more conscious of smiling each time.

We are expecting a little snow this afternoon, but we're more prone here to wait for it to melt than shovel it! LOL I'll be on the watch out for what I can do for a neighbor - thanks for the challenge.

Maria Ontiveros said...

One of my neighbors and I are in a weight loss group together, and we've been sharing cooking duties. But I may try to do something else as well.
Rinda