The ripples of kindness

In an ocean of memories, I remember one that’s the size of a rain drop: A short conversation with Mama in the car.

I couldn’t have been much older than 7, and I was telling Mama about something that we in the larger society needed to fix. (I’m guessing that it had to do with taking better care of animals because at that age I wanted to be veterinarian.) I asked her why more adults weren’t helping, how they could just sit there and watch this happen.

She said it was because by the time we get old, we get tired and give up. We start thinking that things will never change, and we stop believing that we can make a difference.

Such a simple, sad truth.

I vowed right then, in the front seat of that car, to never let that happen to me — and God has brought me back to that vow time and time again. When I thought something was too hard or too unpopular. When I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know how to start. When I was too busy to take a moment to be kind.

I know I’m not alone in choosing hope. There are plenty of people, of all ages, working for a cause that’s higher than themselves. Plenty of people who are taking small steps with great faith.

When I met Natascha Yogachandra, she was 11 years old and had already held enough book drives to open nine libraries in other parts of the world. Then, there’s the New York teenager who had the idea to give Christmas cards to every hospital and nursing home patient in Rochester. A few thousand cards later, her mission was accomplished. And, finally, one that’s closest to my heart: A local teacher sent an e-mail asking for birthday cards and lucky pennies for a student who was dying of cancer. By the time I wrote Alyssa Bruno’s obituary, her family had been smothered with good wishes from tens of thousands of people who had read the e-mail and responded out of love.

I guess we never know the power we have to do good until we take action. Even the tiniest of rain drops causes ripples.

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