Friday, January 9, 2009

The Sublime Friendliness We Find in a Total Stranger

Running past a couple of public phone boxes on the way to catching a train a while back, I was taken by the broad smiles of irony on the faces of two Asian people huddled away from the teeming rain.

As I clambered aboard the train, with several minutes to spare mind you, I was rocked spiritually by this moment of simple kindness. A couple of complete strangers shared a smile--a moment--and something meaningful with me. For an instant we were at one in our humanness.

We didn’t know anything of each other, yet we knew the discomfort of being rained upon; and the sweet relief of temporary shelter.

The price of a smile is virtually nil, yet how infrequently we give them (or receive them) in froth and bubble of life--as city-dwellers we’re particularly known for our unfriendliness with strangers.

It bodes us then to do this: smile more. There are a thousand opportunities each day to send messages of love. The 19th Century classic essay of Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World, cannoned forth:

“So much for the analysis of Love. Now the business of our lives is to have these things fitted to our characters. This is the supreme work to which we need to address ourselves in this world, to learn Love. Is life not full of opportunities for learning Love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a playground, it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education.”[1]

Love is a serious business; opportunities to distribute acts of random kindness abound--at supermarket checkouts... service (gas) stations... on the roads... at work.

Smile. You never know who might be blessed by your simple kindness.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Henry Drummond (Contributor Clarence Darrow) The Greatest Thing in the World (Boston International Pocket Library, Branden Books, 1936), p. 22.

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