In life I’ve not spent a lot of time considering what others do. I’ve known what I’m supposed to do based on spiritual values from early childhood. I’ve tried to do those things and not worry about other things. My health made it possible for me to follow my values. For example, we are urged based on Bible values not only to work, which is our lot in life, but also once our work is done to help a neighbor or anyone in need. If my brother came over and propped his leg on his other leg as he sat and talked, and I observed a yawning hole in the bottom of his shoe, I took it as my job to go to a store and purchase a couple of pairs of shoes of the type he wore and make them ready for him on his next weekend visit. Shopping was not something he liked to do, and he was going through tough times. Another example is my adoption as a single parent of two children. To me that was living life as my values dictated. I didn’t consider it doing good or following values; I considered it a knee jerk reaction to my rules for my own governing me—my way of life.
Recently I’ve had some super life changing health issues. Where once I could claim independence over my life, able to do whatever I needed to do to accomplish my work, heart surgery and two rounds of covid which lingered have made a dent in my ability to do. In old age, that can sneak up on you. It did on me. I got ready to go to a book signing. I was back to doing work I considered mine. I packed my hardcover dinosaur books and my paperback books. I checked that I had my PayPal card reader fully charged and that all my non-essentials were ready. I was set.
Then, there was the time to put the books in the car. Yipes! I had packed the books on the handcart so I could move the material all at one time from hose to car. I literally couldn’t take the paperback box off the cart let alone the hardcover box. From trying repeatedly, I had set off a profuse sweat as if I’d done heavy labor in a hot temperature. I called my daughter and, graciously, she came to help, for by that time I was struggling to breathe. What a mess! With what appeared great ease, she lifted the boxes into the car. Had I learned anything? Yes! When I get to a book signing event, I would take the books out of the box, put the box on the cart, and then put the books back in the box. There were solutions, if I didn’t drain my energy first.
I found the book signing location and decided to walk into the building to see where the signing area for children’s books was located. I slid out of the car to the ground and instantly heard someone call my name. It was an author/publisher I knew from past events. I recognized she was, in my value system, what I’d call a righteous woman. She came over and let me know that she had planned, knowing from my Fb posts, that I might need help. She was there to help.
That left me speechless. She knew what I didn’t recognize, and she intended to help! I understood that behavior, but I was on the other side. She took over with the books after wondering whether the place was open. I actually had googled that. The location was open. With the ease of my daughter, my cart was readied and the books were loaded by this special person while I stood there with my mouth hanging open in utter surprise. Compassion is a beautiful thing to see. It’s transformational. We went into the building and by then I was struggling to breathe. Right at the door the book signing location had a motorized device for handicapped people. The person responsible for the event met us and produced the key so I could use the motorized device. Wow! More compassion. It bugged me to miss my former ability to do what I needed to do independently, but my heart was so filled with this kindness that I was overwhelmed at the beauty of it all. These two people had possibly no clue what their help meant to me or the beauty I saw in it. I tried to let them know, but words often are inadequate. I was seeing providence and know the source of it.
As I began to arrange my end of the table, my solution became fixed. I now need to pack only a few books of each type and bring them in. If more are needed, I can go to the car for them. I could do this, but with alteration in past practice.
At the end of the event, the same special person helped me again by putting the books remaining back into the car. Again, the same beauty of compassion. Comparatively, I was exhausted from doing what most would consider very little expenditure of energy. To me it was like climbing a mountain.
I drove home in prayer of gratitude to God and His providence for me on a day I needed it desperately. I asked for blessings for the special person who showed such compassion. Driving north towards home, I reached an area referred to by our local Alaskans as the hay flats. I suddenly realized that I didn’t have my purse. Yipes. In that purse were all my IDs and credit cards plus my tiny book of passwords for internet connection. I pulled to the shoulder of the highway and called the book signing location I’d left about a half hour ago. It was distant, but I knew they closed at 6 pm. I had time to return to get the purse if it were there. It was! I had to retrace my whole route. That was not fun, for I was tired.
I decided to stop before heading home while rush hour traffic subsided. After I retrieved my purse, I found nothing missing from it. Whew! A restaurant I liked was very close. And in the restaurant, there was an “appointment.” I consider an appointment a spiritually engineered meeting of at least two people, a meeting where there is benefit at least to one of the two or more people. When I have something to “give” I know it immediately. It’s impressed on my heart. It comes to me spiritually. I know much more about the giving side of this thing than the receiving side. It’s easier to be giving. At least to me it is. So, this day I had two appointments: one as a receiver and the other as a giver. In my view the day wasn’t about a book signing totally. I was a receiver and a giver. I knew then I had forgotten my purse, because I had an appointment. My purse was protected because I had an appointment. I realized that much. My gift this day was the absolute beauty that comes from being part of these appointments.
In the overall scheme of things, I’ve watched this country in which I live slide from a help-your-neighbor perspective to an extraordinary self-focus, where people will help others, IF there is a benefit to themselves for doing so (e.g., getting paid for the service). Vision has shortened to considerations of things at a distance to super close to the eye contact with others through a phone—not directly. Where once there was a virtue in doing things well, getting by with minimalism has found greater enthusiasm today. I could go on and on. Today’s experience impressed on me that there remain righteous people. They are not necessarily few in number, just operating under the radar, not for their own self-aggrandizement, but because there is a need that needs to be met. They remain quietly doing what is expected and doing it graciously. My lightness of heart is restored by this day of beauty in compassion.