During a recent visit to the grocery store, I found myself uncharacteristically unhurried. As I paused to peruse the giftwrap options, an elderly woman approached, "Excuse me - can you tell me which of these lightbulbs is 75 watts?" She shared that her glaucoma was flaring up, and she was having trouble making out the words on the packaging. I helped her identify what she needed and went on my way.
A few aisles later, I spied her struggling again. "Can I help?" I asked. She gratefully accepted the offer, and a moment later, I was back to filling up my basket.
While waiting in the check-out line I stood behind a young mother and her son, who appeared to be under the weather. He sneezed, then asked her for a tissue. After fumbling in her bag for a moment, she sighed and told him he would have to wait until they reached the car. Having been in the very same position on many occasions, I was happy to come to her aid by producing a package of tissues from my own bag.
I share these encounters not for accolades nor to suggest my efforts were in any way heroic. Quite to the contrary: these are simple kindnesses we can all extend - but only when we slow down enough to open our eyes to what is happening around us.
I can only imagine how many similar opportunities I have failed to recognize while distracted by the babe, my to-do list, or the constant chatter in my own mind. But that poor track record needn't stop me from acting on the opportunities I do see.
As you move through your day today, take a moment to pause and open your eyes to the needs that surround you. When you can help, do. And let that kindness ripple through you and into the lives of all you encounter.