There's a lot of hate and meanness in the world, a lot of hurt and disappointment, but the past few days I've found myself thinking of just the opposite. There is a lot of goodness and kindness in this world too. Perhaps it was the excellent lesson on service taught in my ward's Relief Society last Sunday that got me thinking along these lines. Maybe it was being able to at last begin returning to the temple. Or it might have been a kindness shown a friend of mine during this sloppy stormy weather this week that added to my thoughts. A mother of three small children, she found she needed to make a trip to the grocery store. When she got there she couldn't find a parking spot anywhere near the building. Dragging three small children through a foot of slush is no fun! When she finally spotted a parking spot near the building, she discovered another shopper had found it first and was ready to pull into it. She pulled back and the other driver motioned for her to roll down her window. Instead of the rude comment she probably expected, the other driver said it looked like my friend needed the spot more than she did so she'd just block the spot so no one else could get it while my friend circled around and came back to where she could pull into it.
Like everyone else I've been the recipient of kindness and service. I've had doors slammed in my face too--literally. There was a time when I left a doctor's office carrying two crying two-year-olds, a diaper bag, and my purse. On reaching the outside door and discovering it didn't have a push door opener, I was relieved to see a man walk toward us, and being a bit on the naive side, I expected he would open the door for me. He opened it alright, but slammed it behind him, sending me and my babies sprawling.
Women tend to think of service as providing meals for those who are sick or who have just given birth. I only know of one occasion when a meal wasn't appreciated. I remember as a small child accompanying my mother to a neighbor's house when she went to deliver a meal she'd prepared for the family whose mother had just been hospitalized. The children, who were old enough to have better manners, informed my mother they didn't like the main course she'd prepared and that they didn't like spice cake; she should have made chocolate cake for them. That aside, sharing a meal is a wonderful act of service, but there are other ways to provide kindness to friends, family, or neighbors. Right now I'm aware of a woman who is driving a neighbor's children to school each day so their mother can stay at the hospital with their critically ill baby sister. There are people who shovel or snow blow neighbor's walks and driveways. I've often taken books to people who were incapacitated. I once had a neighbor who routinely picked up an extra gallon of milk when she went shopping to give to someone who might need it. The gift of an hour or two of time to free a caregiver to shop or take a breather is a huge gift. The small courtesies of a smile or pleasant word should not be underestimated.
When my daughter and her husband adopted their first baby, the proceedings required that she take the baby to Utah until the adoption was formalized. Though Utah is her home state and where the application originated, she was living on a military base in Washington and her husband was in Iraq. She hadn't expected to be unable to return to her base home and had left their dog in the care of a neighbor. A dear friend offered to drive to Washington to get the dog for her. I consider that truly going the second mile.
During the past five months I've been the recipient of many large and small services and I appreciate each one, so thank you to some very special people. There will continue to be a lot of things wrong in our society and I don't expect to see a sudden end to cruelty, spitefulness, and plain meanness, but I am convinced that if some of us work to hush the strident tones of our voices, look for opportunities to serve, and applaud the kind acts of others we'll create a world much closer to the one we want to live in.
By the way today is the last day of the January Wish List contest!