So I’m at Target, because it’s my day off and one pair of jeans evidently isn’t sufficient for our second grader. Because I have been very, very good at Target, and bought only two pairs of size 6 pants and one package of trouser socks (as opposed to $150 worth of stuff I don’t need) I treat myself to Starbucks which, quite conveniently, is right there in the Target.
The woman ahead of me in line is chatting up quite a storm and I keep telling myself “this extra minute she’s taking will not throw off your entire day’s schedule.” I breathe in through my nose and breathe out through my mouth. I imagine I am one with the universe, but I know this is a lie, because really, all I want is my skinny latte, thank you very much. There’s only one thing standing between me and my latte, and that is this chatty woman.
She finishes her order, then turns to me and says, “Would you mind signing a birthday card for a complete stranger? My best friend is stuck in a hotel room all by herself on her birthday and she’s going through a nasty divorce and I thought this card signed by random people would cheer her up.” I say yes, and get my comeuppance for my impatience. The Universe is right more often than I am. We meet at the pick-up counter, and I have plenty of time to sign the card, because her mocha latte with four pumps of peppermint is taking a long time. While we wait, she asks another few folks to sign the card, and then leaves.
I’m still waiting for my drink, but I notice she is on her way out the door without her Minty Minty Special, so I go after her and ask if maybe she would like her drink. She smiles, and makes that face I make at least three times a day – I believe we call that “chagrin” – and I get my latte and go on my merry way.
That was a kind thing for her to do – to picture her friend ordering room service in her jammies, all alone on her birthday in some generic hotel room and to want her not to feel sad. She put herself out there, a little bit, risked some foolishness so she might cheer up her friend. I’ve always appreciated the kindness of strangers; I haven’t depended on it, but I do appreciate it.
So I’ve been wondering how I can be kind to our congressmen and women right now. Really, they are strangers to me. Our congressman attends our Christmas Eve service, but other than a handshake, I don’t know him. I don’t know any of these people duking it out at the capitol. I know what I think of them, especially those on the other side of the aisle than mine. But this little voice – maybe it’s Jesus – keeps tickling my brains saying, “You have to be kind to strangers. And you have to love your enemies.” Sigh. Why does Jesus have to make everything so hard?
So I guess I have to pray for all those people, the red state people and the blue state people. (Honestly, I can never remember which is which.) I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to pray for God to change them, but I think I’m on the right track by asking God to help them. I’ll pray for Pam, alone in a strange city in a Hyatt on her birthday. I’ll pray for her friend, too, because she pretty much made my day.
Here’s to some kindness all around.