|Photo Credit: SQUAIO from morgueFile.com|
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful fundraising event in Port O’Connor, Texas with my husband and our good friends, Melissa and John. The special evening was held at a beautifully breath-taking venue called The Sanctuary at Costa Grande. The Friends of the Port O’Connor Library hosted the memorable night in an effort to raise funds to build a new library and buy new books. I was able to visit with a number of Texas authors as well and that made it an even more amazing experience for me. I also had the chance to pick their brains a bit about the ins and outs of publishing a book, since that is on my bucket list! Soon, Sunshines…very soon. I’ll keep you posted about my upcoming children’s book!
Anyway, let me tell you about one of the fun moments of the evening. There is a long, paved driveway from the highway to the waterfront community clubhouse. As we drove along that road, I took in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the coast. The palm trees swaying in the salty breeze immediately took me to my happy place. I was all smiles as we made our way up to the closed gate. I was smiling because I love the coast and I was also grinning because I knew something.
I could tell that my husband was wondering about that closed gate up ahead. BUT! I knew how to open that gate. I knew the secret code. Before he could even ask me, I said, “No worries. I have the super-secret code.” I felt extra special thinking that I was one of the select few who was privy to that information. Melissa had texted me the code earlier that day, so I pulled it up on my phone. As I got my fingers primed to punch in the top secret numbers, I noticed something that took the coastal wind right out of my sails.
Guess what was taped to the keypad for ALL to see? THE CODE! Yes, I guess I wasn’t the only one who had access to the code. I had to laugh though because I had jokingly made such a big deal about being the only one with that confidential information. My husband just grinned as I pushed in the very PUBLIC code and the gate opened.
You know what? There’s another code that isn’t privy to just a few people. It’s a universal code word that will bring an incredible amount of joy to our lives if we use it. Do you know what it is? It’s an 8-letter-not-so-secret-code word. The code is kindness.
There was a teaching moment over the summer in which I had the chance to encourage my daughter to practice kindness. We were at the Frio River and my older daughter was getting ready to take a shower one evening. She gathered her soap, lotion, pajamas, and towel and asked me to help her get the shower water at just the right temperature. The bathroom door was closed and from the other side, I could hear her sister hollering our way, asking my daughter if she could use her tablet.
To say that my daughter is protective of certain belongings is an understatement. She never wants her sister to mess with her tablet. Never. Ever. I could see the snarl on her face and just as she opened her mouth to holler, “No!”…I put my finger to her lips and whispered, “Hey…I have an idea. What if you surprise her and say “Yes” this time? Wouldn’t that shock her? Wouldn’t that act of kindness just blow her away? Why don’t you try it? She won’t believe it! Just say it and see.”
After a few moments of thoughtful consideration, my daughter wiped away her scowl and said, “Yes.” Then, I could hear my other daughter in intense disbelief on the other side of the door. “WHAT did you say?!” she hollered back.
“I said yes,” my daughter replied with a smirky grin. Then, we both heard my youngest daughter chatting with my mom in such a doubtful voice. “Did she say yes? Really? Did she?”
I could tell that my older daughter was so proud of herself for choosing kindness in that moment. She was beaming. It was profound. What happened after that made my heart sing. When my daughter was done with her shower, she walked out to look for her sister. Her sister gave her a gigantic hug and told her, “Thank you!” Then, you would not believe the amount of sugary sweetness that came out of my youngest daughter’s mouth. She offered to get her sister a drink and said they could share the blanket and pillows on the couch. The circle of kindness went on that entire evening and it got me all teary-eyed for sure. It was one of the most memorable evenings of sisterly love. Believe me, I held on to every morsel of it because it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. One act of kindness. Just one. See what can happen?
This brings me to a little coastal kindness story that I ran across recently:
One day a man was walking along the seashore. He noticed that during the night many seashells and starfish had washed up on the shore. Thoroughly enjoying the morning sun and cool sea air, the man strolled for miles along the sand.
Far off in the distance, he saw a small figure dancing. The man was joyous that someone was celebrating life in such a grand and uninhibited manner. As he drew closer, however, it became apparent that the figure was not dancing, but repeatedly performing some act.
Approaching the small figure, the man noticed that it was a child. The girl was methodically picking up starfish from the shore and tossing them back into the surf. The man paused for a moment, puzzled, then asked, "Why are you throwing those starfish back into the ocean?"
"If I leave these starfish on the beach," she replied, "the sun will dry them, and they will die. I am throwing them back into the ocean because I want them to live."
The man pondered for a moment, impressed with the child's thoughtfulness. Then he motioned up and down the miles and miles of beach and said, "There must be millions of starfish along here! How can you possibly expect to make a difference?"
The young girl contemplated the man's words for a moment, then she slowly leaned over, reached down, and carefully picked up another starfish from the sand. With a gentle effort, she lobbed the starfish back out into the surf.
She turned to the man and smiled. "You may be right," she said, "but I made a difference for that one!”
Can WE make a difference for just one person? Can we use the secret code of kindness to bring life to someone? Can we share the code with others? Not only do I think we can…I KNOW we can! I’ve seen how acts of kindness bring forth the very best in people…in the one giving AND in the one receiving.
Try the secret code. It will open countless gates.
Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!