Recently, I was reminded just how much the simplest things in life can make a huge positive impact. I am often reminded of this fact by the folks who don't have a whole lot of "stuff" or responsibilities to complicate their lives. Not to say that they wouldn't like some more stuff, like a warm bed in their own home, or a car to get around, but somehow when these things are stripped away it seems it's easier to find pleasure in the most simple things.
The sun beams down on the top level of the parking garage warming my face. This burst of warmth on a freezing February Friday excites me and puts a little extra hop in my step as I make my way to the garage stairs. Taking the stairs saves electricity and is good for me I tell myself.
I walk briskly down the mall toward 2nd St. There are a few folks smoking outside the Haven.
“Hey, how are you?” I ask as I smile and walk toward the entrance.
“Good, how are you?” they smile back.
Almost immediately, a young man is asking me for a comb as I step behind the big welcome desk. I retrieve his comb and my volunteer shift starts.
I get a chance to talk with Scott, a really interesting and kind fellow who actually enjoys sleeping out in the open at his camp rather than the night shelter because its more peaceful and less busy. He was ever so thankful for the boots a family friend of mine had sent him. He divulged how my friends' cards and getting the chance to go visit his mother several times in the past few weeks has brought a wonderful start to his year.
Shortly thereafter, I gave two pairs of decently thick weather-proof gloves to a couple who hadn't been coming to the haven very long and they were ecstatic. The guy asked if he could give me a hug or a kiss he was so happy to have these gloves.
Another man, Thomas, expressed much gratitude for my attentive listening during a very lengthy conversation with him wherein he explained much of his early life and how he came to be in his current situation. He was happy to have positive influences such as myself and other volunteers to encourage him to get his GED so he can start looking for jobs.
So many of these items like gloves, combs, open space, mail, and conversations we often take for granted. We often take the people in our lives for granted, and think they'll always be there, or they'll know we care even if we don't call. Call anyway because nothing is guaranteed. I got a chance to talk to a best, but geographically distant, friend of mine on Friday, and it truly was the cherry on top of my already wonderful day. To know that she's doing well and is happy brought me great joy, a heart full of love, and a reminder that there is some power out there connecting and guiding us.
I think these little things are part of the root of this Small Acts idea. The simple things in life are the ones that can make the difference, but they're often the ones that are ignored or forgotten. It's not just about doing good, but appreciating beauty and the simple bits that make life so wonderful when everything else is stripped away. It's about taking the time to notice and express gratitude.