If the term ‘random acts of kindness’ had been in the lexicon during Jesus’ time, I believe he would have was pretty clear that they had to do with giving and receiving. Sometimes we give, sometimes we receive; do both, trade off, don’t own one. If I am always the giver, I place myself in a position of power, superiority, and arrogance, and diminish the other person to weakness, inferiority, and humility. The world is full of such situations; just listen to the evening news. But if I trade off, sometimes giving, sometimes receiving, the playing field levels off and all that is there is love, which has no opposite.
Random acts of kindness. But are they so random? Should we be so surprised? Are they more usual when we are open to them? Would we be more apt to offer them if we stayed alert?
At the Dublin airport yesterday, waiting for my flight to Boston, there I was, receiving an act of kindness. I was starving, so up I went to the little snack bar and ordered a croissant and cappuccino, only to be told that they only took euro. All I had were pounds sterling, but even the U.S. dollars at the bottom of my suitcase wouldn’t have done the trick. I walked away, feeling a little sorry for myself I must confess, and sat down with an hour to go before flight time.
“Excuse me, are you the woman who didn’t have money for a snack? I know it will be a long time before we get fed on the flight; my wife and I have some extra euro, so here, buy what you’d like.” I accepted the 6 euro, gratefully returned to the kiosk to make my purchases.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it. And yet, my first inclination was to say, “No thank you, I’ll be fine.”
How hard it is to accept money from a stranger. After all, I am self-sufficient, a seasoned traveler, and not poor. How hard it is to accept with a simple thank you and smile, and leave it at that. But that’s pretty much what I did, adding that I’ll return the kindness to someone sometime.
P.S. Once on the plane I realized that I could have paid with a credit card. But then, there would have been no opportunity for that random, or may not so random, act of kindness, no opportunity to pass it forward.