The deer appeared out of nowhere. The driver two cars ahead of me slammed on her brakes but not before the deer skidded across her hood, swung up and over the roof of her car, and crashed down on the road, where it limped into the woods. And just like that, life had changed and the day was not the one that she had been expecting.
The car in front of me car stopped and the driver jumped out, ready to help and share her concern. I wish I could say I responded with such enthusiasm.
As two pick-up trucks roared by, eager to continue barreling down the country road, I considered my options. I have to admit I hesitated. I could see no one was hurt. A Good Samaritan was already on the scene to provide assistance. And honestly, I wanted to get home, tired after a long day of meetings, and yearning for a cup of tea before the evening’s activities unfolded.
A bit grudgingly, I pulled over.
And I’m glad I did. The driver who hit the deer was understandably shaken up. Neither she nor the woman who had stopped were familiar with the area, so I was able to offer ideas about how to get help and describe just which corner of the woods was our current location.
Surprisingly (for our remote area), a kind, efficient and reassuring police officer arrived to offer assistance. After a quick hug followed by well wishes, I was on my way.
But the incident left me wondering:
- What if I went through life with this attitude – where can I help?
- What difference, large or small, can I make?
- Who might need a helping hand or reassuring word today?
- What simple act of kindness might touch someone’s life?
We don’t always get to prepare our response. We don’t get to rehearse our attitudes. All of a sudden someone may need our help. How will we respond?
Often it turns out that no special tools or skills are necessary. Just showing up – just being there – we can make all the difference.
Henri Nouwen’s wisdom offers words to live by:
“Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now
will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”
The opportunity to share compassion may come without warning – and we are asked to respond in a moment’s notice.