Two weeks ago, my friends took me to the Timpanogos Story Telling Festival. I had a wonderful time, escaping from my chair and entering the worlds the story-tellers crafted in the cool evening air beneath a canvas pavilion. One of my favorite story-tellers had physical limitations that resulted from a past motorcycle accident. But as he spoke, I forgot his arm that hung limp, or other such distractions. I found myself tangled up in the web of words he wove around us, taking us to a world we hadn’t imagined before sitting down.
I have come to appreciate that the best part of people comes through when we stop seeing the physical package they are wrapped in.
The other day I was sitting in the front of a room filled with people—with just women before me. They were of various forms and ages, nationalities, style of hair, and bent to the knuckles of their hands. At first my eyes were drawn to the beautiful, young girl with the large eyes, which were open to new experiences and ideas. But then the more I observed, the more I saw the beauty of each woman: the kindness they showed each other, their faces lifted to learn, and their smiles directed at me. When I walked past later, one elderly lady reached out and touched me on the shoulder, lightly, as if to say, “well done.” I felt her love. I felt all their love in an overwhelming, nearly tangible, feeling that engulfed me as I sat there. I wanted that feeling to last always.
Life doesn’t work that way, but we can try to capture such moments. Open your heart, and don’t allow critical or negative thoughts to form regarding someone else. Look into their heart, find their desires, their yearnings, and their hopes. Let them know you noticed when they did something good.
I still remember many years ago when I was asked to substitute teaching music to young children at church for a month. This is a challenge for me, because though I love music and love to sing, I’m not all that proficient at “hearing” the correct notes. The truth is when I sing by myself, few can recognize the tune. But at the end of that month, one of the ladies thanked me and said something like, “You did a wonderful job. The children learned that new song so well.” It has been more than 25 years, and I still remember how she made me feel.
None of us are perfect. We all have weaknesses. It’s part of being mortal. We all need to be forgiven at times and loved despite our miss-steps and occasional thoughtlessness. We all need that reassuring touch from a friend, that smile that says, “well done,” and that non-judgmental moment when someone over-looks, and forgets, our errors, and makes us feel valuable anyway.
Love doesn’t cost money; it doesn’t pollute the environment, burn fossil fuel, waste resources, or impose on other’s time.
It is the best in us that we have to give. Give Abundantly.