Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Kinder, Gentler Humanity?

Change arrives not with a bang but with a whisper, and it's only our attunement that alerts us to its presence. While I know all is reflection — that how you act/react is in some way related to my behavior — yesterday two small but distinct interactions stood out as heralding a quantum leap in human compassion and kindness. Each is so tiny that you might wonder, "What's the big deal?" Yet aggregated with the myriad other such expressions of kindness and caring taking place in lives right now around the globe, I venture to say a shift in consciousness is indeed underway:

In the morning, I needed to print several pages while at the library. Though I have my own laptop, I long ago gave away my printer, so on the rare occasion I need to print something, I send the document to my web-based email, log on to a library computer, and send it to their printer, which then requires coins to print out the document. Laborious, though not time-intensive. The only challenge is getting onto a library PC, because they're usually in perpetual use during the hours of library operation.

I approached a miraculously free machine just as a young man slid into the seat and was entering his library card number. I said apologetically, "I was just on my way over here to print a few pages — will you be long?" He looked up, smiled, stood up, and said, "Go ahead!" I was amazed, and promised to be quick. Four minutes later I found him, gestured to the free machine, and thanked him again for his patience and kindness. He didn't seem to think he'd done anything special, so I added, "It's rare." Though possibly, becoming less so.

In late afternoon, I pulled into a busy gas station to refuel my ancient Toyota, which looks a lot worse than it runs. A fellow at the next pump smiled a few times, then came over to speak. I thought he might need directions, but he said, "I don't want to impose, but did you know your left front tire is low on air?" I did indeed. I smiled back and said, "Yes, it has a slow leak, but thank you very much! I really appreciate your concern."

As I drove away, I marveled at these two small demonstrations from strangers that we are becoming more connected, more caring, more open to serving our brothers and sisters from a full heart. Subtle shifts make all the difference, as I've written before: it's a tiny step and a quantum leap from scared and scarred to sacred, from density to destiny, from tough to touch, from passive to passion, from buying to being. And encounter-by-encounter, heart to heart, we're growing here.

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