Last weekend, I celebrated another birthday, and I was the very grateful recipient of many acts of kindness courtesy of my friends and family. Of all the presents and kind gestures, though, one stood out among the rest. What made it memorable and special had nothing to do with the gift itself, but it has everything to do with the gift bearer himself.
James used to be a guest at the day shelter for homeless men where I am employed, and about eighteen months ago, James received a new lease on life, literally and figuratively, thanks to a permanent supportive housing program run by another homeless service provider in our community. In addition to having keys to his own apartment, James also has the keys to a special place I hold for him and all our of current guests and former guests in my heart. What he did last week filled both my heart and my stomach.
Even though James no longer is a guest at the day shelter, he still is a frequent visitor. Most mornings find him milling about outside, as he awaits to go see his case manager, run errands, attend a therapy group, and take care of his daily business. It is rare that I do not see him, as he usually greets me with a big smile, a warm hug, and nice chat to begin my work day, so, I was a bit concerned when I did not see him three mornings in a row. My worry quickly turned to joy and gratitude on that third day of not seeing him waiting nearby.
I emerged from a meeting that morning to find that a package had been left for me at the front desk. I wasn’t expecting anything, so, I was intrigued. The package turned out to be a large box of decadent chocolates, and I was told by one of our staff members that James had dropped it off for me in honor of my birthday. As I held the present in my hands, a huge grin spread across my face, happy tears welled up in my eyes, and my stomach growled in appreciation. It was a sweet treat from an even sweeter person!
As much as I like chocolate, I like James even more, and his gift meant a great deal to me for a number of reasons. I was so touched that James remembered my birthday and that he took the time and effort to commemorate it with this delicious candy. He is such a thoughtful, generous, and kind soul whose shy smile lights up a room and whose eyes hint at the trauma that he has endured during his lifetime. What truly makes it one of the kindest acts done on my behalf, though, is the fact that James lives on a fixed income, and he has a very limited budget. While a Whitman Sampler does not break the bank for the vast majority of people, it is a huge splurge for James. It humbled me to no end that he thought enough of me to spend some of his limited income on this gift for me, and there are no words to convey how thankful I am for his wonderful gift and for his continued special place in my life.
Kindness doesn’t have to cost a lot to make a positive difference in the world, and James’ thoughtfulness is a wonderful reminder that gifts from the heart are the most precious and priceless gifts that can be given. Thank you, James, for making my birthday even happier and the world a bit kinder by your actions and presence. You are a true gift!
Just one thing each day . . .