Since we’re in the traditional days of giving, today’s blog is about the gifts we sometimes give without realizing just how timely they are when we’re in the process of giving them.
For instance, a friend mentioned driving around with a scanner she’d planned on giving to Goodwill, but when she spontaneously asked some friends if they’d like one, she discovered they’d just been discussing how much they’d like to have one right before she showed up.
Another friend spontaneously received the gift of a laptop from which she can print her manuscripts, just when her computer went kaput.
When I was moving from IL to AZ a few years back, I experienced a couple of those moments from the giving side. On one of the days before I was due to leave, I was running out of time to get rid of everything I had, so I drove several miles to drop off a large number of very nice coat hangers to the Salvation Army, only to discover they didn’t want them. As I drove home, I wondered what the I was going to do with them, and hated to throw them away.
I drove past a Wendy’s when I had a sudden urge to pull in – not because I was hungry or thirsty – I just felt like I should. I didn’t even understand it at the time. I asked myself why I had pulled in there and decided to just get a drink from the drive-thru. The woman at the register commented on all the coat hangers I had, so I jokingly asked if she’d like to have them. She said, “Oh, yes, please! I never have enough hangers for my or my kids’ clothes and I can’t afford to buy them.”
A few days after that, I was upset because I couldn’t get a charity to pick up the furniture I had, and I didn’t have time to try to sell it. (The charities wouldn’t pick it up because my apartment had four steps they had to go up and down – they said I’d have to move everything outside.) I was practically in tears wondering how I’d do that with no help, but I managed to drag a desk up the stairs and out to the curb. Since that hurt my back, I worried how I’d manage to clean everything later.
But as I started to turn away from the curb to go back inside, a van stopped and two women got out. One of them asked if I was throwing the desk away, and if so, could the other lady have it. I said sure, and she told me the other woman (who didn’t speak English) had nothing – no furniture at all. I told her I had an apartment full that she could have, if they could just pick it up.
I took them inside and the second woman started crying. She and her two little boys had been eating and sleeping on the floor for several months (they were recent immigrants). She was so happy, she not only helped me finish packing what few things I was taking with me, she also came back after they picked up the furniture and cleaned the whole apartment for me. It turned out to be a blessing for both of us.
These types of gifts that we might give or receive appear to be spontaneous or coincidental, but I wonder. Nevertheless, when it happens, it makes me realize how much I have to be grateful for, and how small acts of kindness pay large rewards. I hope we will all be able to give and receive such blessings this year.