I live in a small rural community. I say "community" instead of "area" because "community" to me means a group working together. When I walk down the street I know most of the people that I encounter. I know them by name, and stop to talk to them. I like where I live, I choose to live here. I have lived in other places, but this is my home.
A few years ago we took a family trip into Toronto. I think it's important for my kids to see the city. We were taking them on the subway, when the subway doors began to close on the baby's stroller. Riley and Rowan would have been three or so, and Grace would have been 7ish. Christopher and I frantically tried to get the stroller through, all the while onlookers either pretended they saw nothing, or they just sat and watched us. After the two us working we had the stroller, and the baby in it freed from the doors. We sat down shaken and tired. I looked at Christopher and said "If we were at home, there would have been people lined up to help." He nodded in aggreement. At home we look out for each other.
When we had our car accident, our neighbours took up a collection for us to help with our expenses traveling back and forth to Kingston. Our bulk store even had a donation jar. When we lost Gabriel there was a stream of people at our door with meals for almost a month. Many of those people were complete strangers. This kindness in no way removed our grief, but it was like a big warm hug. When you loose a child it is easy to look at the world and only see darkness, but because of the kindness of the people in our community our hearts ached, but we could see the light.
I do not pretend that my community is the only one to show this kindness. It happens in "communities". On the week-end I was speaking to an amazing woman. I was telling her about a family that I know that is going through a hearbreakingly difficult time. I so want to help them in any way that I can. I have to think however about what I do. I have have this idea that I can save the world. If I just do the right thing, I can fix just about anything. I often need to step back and realize that not everyone likes me to barrel in and try to help. She then shared her story with me. When her husband was 35 he had a heart attack. Her children were just little. It was shortly after that she found out that she had cancer. I cannot imagine the grief that house was filled with. Being a mother she would have probably tried to shield her children from the pain, and she and her husband probably put on brave faces in front of them, only to sob behind closed doors. She told me that her friends banded together and organized meals for her. Complete strangers were providing dinners for her family. Because of their kindness she had one less thing to worry about. She could focus some energy on herself to heal because she knew that people were helping her. She knew that at least her children had a nice dinner to eat that night.
This conversation got me thinking. Sometimes people don't want to accept the help that is offered to them because it feels like "charity". No one wants to accept "charity", because "charity" makes you feel like you are less than. If only they could see the help for what it is. It is an act of kindness. By accepting the help, you not only ease your own burden, you allow the person who is helping to feel good. It feels so good to help someone else. The act of making a simple casserole is easy, it makes you feel like you are doing something. If only people could step back and see the circle. I personally recieved great kindness, and in turn I help others where I can. It's like an insurance policy.