“I was out of money,” Sharon said. “So, I went to a business I owed money to so I could tell them I didn’t have enough funds to pay them right now. I was hoping they would give me more time to get them their money.”
What happened to Sharon while in that same store surprised and touched her. The man behind the counter pulled out his wallet and handed her some of his own money saying, “I hope this helps” while offering Sharon Newton a heartfelt gift. Such offered voluntary compassion to another unknown person brings to mind a statement once made by Calvin Coolidge:
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
Oliver Burkeman, author of “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals,” wrote about this very same type of personalized giving by counseling everyone to “see that preparing nutritious meals for your children might matter as much as anything could ever matter, even if you won’t be winning any cooking awards; or that your novel’s worth writing if it moves or entertains a handful of your contemporaries, even though you know you’re no Tolstoy; or that virtually any career might be a worthwhile way to spend a working life if it makes things slightly better for those it serves.”
Sharon has always believed in following such a path of service in life. She made it her life’s work as teacher of language to children for her entire career. And now, even though she’s retired from professional teaching, her commitment to blessing lives, one by one, has not waned in the slightest; as witnessed by one of her friend’s again just days ago.
Sharon wanted to give a holiday gift to her friend, even as her finances were wearing thin. She’s been giving of herself for so long that it didn’t take her but mere moments to decide how to express her love to this friend. Here’s how her friend described Sharon’s offering of affection:
“I went to visit Sharon to make sure all was well. I also wanted to give her a small Christmas gift and wish her all my best. She’s always doing so much for the children she volunteers to teach. But, just after I offered my small token to her she touched my heart by giving me something precious. A gift which was truly from her heart.”
Upon Sharon’s graceful reception of her friend’s gift she proffered a boxed gift of her own to her friend saying, “I wanted to give you something special. I’ve been collecting these over the years and they’re dear to me. Just like you are.”
The gift Sharon gave her friend was more than just the annually collected, china Christmas ornaments contained in the box. She was offering a portion of herself, plenteous mercy, goodwill, as well as the cherished peace obtainable only through heartfelt friendship.
Just as the man who handed her some of his own money saying, “I hope this helps,” such voluntary compassion given freely by both this unknown person and Sharon are validations of their conviction and commitment to establish peace on earth.
No one is meant to go through this life alone. Just imagine if everyone continually gave offerings of peace, just as Sharon and the giving man behind the counter.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.