We were, of course, running late.
Aren’t we always? But this day we were running late to church. We had to park far away, because we were so late that all of the late-leavers parking spots from the prior service had already been taken. So I’m speed walking up the sidewalk, pulling my four year old’s hand behind me, when suddenly he pulls back. His warm little hand is gone, and I turn back to see him bent over the grass next to the sidewalk, deep in though over a little patch of dandelions.
Maybe if we had been late anywhere else I would’ve felt annoyed, or irritated, or urged him onward. But because the air was cold and the sun warmed my neck, and we were already so late anyway, and we were at church, after all, I didn’t do any of my normal mom-hurrying things. Instead I watched him. He gently selected three bright yellow dandelions, then walked up to me with the biggest grin on his face, and said he’d picked flowers for each person in our family (myself, his daddy, and his brother).
He showed me which flower was meant for whom, and said he’d picked them because he loved us. Then his brother picked one for his church class leader, too, and her whole face brightened when he gave it to her in the hallway.
We dropped our four year old off at his PreK class, and he asked me to keep the dandelion-family safe during church. So I set them on the top of my purse and kept checking to make sure they were still there, throughout the service.
I couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about that day; I’m sure it was excellent, as it usually is. But what I truly learned came from my toddler, this tiny human who has only been on the planet for four years.
Regardless of how late you are, you can stop to be kind. You can make someone’s day with thoughtfulness.
He literally stopped to smell the flowers, and his one action made an impact on our family and then beyond. What if we all took a minute, each day, to do something kind and thoughtful? We talk about the ripple effect, but seeing it in action is something magical.
A small intrusive plant changed our day, and shifted my perspective. Holding onto that knowledge and following it daily is not easy. It is so easy to get annoyed when you have to ask someone to put their shoes on six times in three minutes. But giving grace, extending kindness, showing love- that is the harder path, and the one my four year old has inspired me to take with his simple, loving gesture.
World Kindness Day is this week. What simple, loving gesture can you take today to begin a ripple effect and bring some joy into the world?