“It is helpful to remember that sometimes the most powerful medicine we can offer for suffering of any kind is simply kindness. It says: ‘You’re not alone. I see you. I hear you. I am with you.’ Even if it’s only for a moment or a day, that sense of genuine connection can change the trajectory of a life.”
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
The above quote resonated with me. I remember, many years ago, that I celebrated one Christmas by inviting people who would otherwise be alone for that day over to my place for a pot luck Christmas dinner.
Christmas Eve I got on a bus on my way home from some last minute shopping. As I stepped up onto the bus I bumped into Richard, an acquaintance who I didn’t know very well. I did know, however, that he had no family in town, so I asked him if he wanted to join us for Christmas dinner the next day. He said yes. Christmas day was wonderful with all of us together sharing good food, lively conversation, and much laughter. A number of the people were musicians so it wasn’t long before we had a jam session happening. One of the guests brought out a guitar and Richard joined in with his mandolin as we all sang into the night.
Much later I again bumped into Richard. He wanted to tell me something. He said that I had no idea how much it had meant to him that I had invited him to Christmas dinner that evening so many months ago. He then proceeded to tell me that he had been very sick when I had invited him to our Christmas celebration. He had just found out that his kidneys were failing and he had been horribly depressed. My invitation had meant the world to him. Richard has since died, but this special memory of him, and of that night, will live on in my heart forever.
One never knows what the effect of a simple act of kindness will be on another.