I haven't walked home in a very long time for various reasons. Still needing a hernia repair, my energy waxes and wanes. However, due to our only car picking up a bolt in the tire, I decided the other day that I didn't want anyone risking a flat trying to pick me up, until I could make it home and assess how slow or fast the leak was, and get a repair. That turned out to be a whole other adventure which I will share later.
I actually enjoyed my leisurely walk home. Taking time to look around and notice details of Life that often whip by in a blur while driving down the two mile stretch home. The sky was Beautiful. As were the trees. The scenery. The people. Bicyclists. Pedestrians. Dogs on leashes. Birds. Everything was Beautiful.
I tried to smile my biggest smile to anyone headed in the opposite direction when we made eye contact, and said "Aloha" too in my warmest voice. The responses were generally heartwarming in return. Aloha aku, Aloha mai. Where Love is Given, Love is Returned...
The walk home was mostly uneventful for the most part. At one point, I noticed a man hunched over sweeping up the little flowers that had cascaded out of the showering trees which lined and shaded the sidewalk, as well as little leaves, and some little pieces of paper and man-made trash.
It was almost a futile effort, as the brisk winds swirled around and not only spread more blossoms across his cleared path, but blew his little swept piles around too just as soon as he formed them.
Upon approach, I stopped and surreptitiously watched him for awhile. I noticed most people arced around him in a wide berth as they passed him. No eye contact. No smile. Nothing.
As I got closer, I could see that he had a little trash bag next to him, which I had thought was a collection of the flowers, leaves and other trash that he was sweeping up. However, as I glanced in, I saw clothes. There was also an empty Big-Gulp cup next to his bag. By his appearance, I believed that those were his Worldly possessions.
His little broom was dirty and broken, such that he had to hunch over to sweep. I could only imagine how his back must ache from sweeping bent over like that.
My Spirit Guides and Teachers put an image in my head, of me thanking him for his work in cleaning the sidewalk. I took a deep breath as I approached him and stopped in my tracks, as he looked up at me.
I smiled the biggest smile I could and said, "Wow! This place looks Beautiful... Thank you so very much for making it look so nice..."
He smiled a giant smile back at me. I could see broken teeth. Cracks and lines in his face from the relentless heat of the Sun. His eyes were clear, and his countenance was beaming. He was an African American man who seemed about my age, but who had been exposed to a much harder existence than I and exposed to the harsh physical elements daily.
"Why thank you!" he responded, as he looked back down and started sweeping a little more harder and quicker.
Several people hurriedly passed us as we stood there.
Ready to continue on my Journey home, I looked at him one last time, smiled, and said, "Thank you again brother for what you do. I appreciate it greatly, as I appreciate you."
He looked up, smiled, and said, "Thank you again! God Bless you brother..."
I smiled, and said, "God Bless you brother. Take care. Love you..."
He looked up again from his sweeping, and smiling, said, "Love you too..."
I continued on my Journey home.
I thought about our encounter as I continued to walk. How simple it was. How genuine. How Healing.
I knew nothing about him, as he knew nothing about me. What hardships he had been through in the first half of his life. What suffering. What pain. What loss. What heartache. I knew what suffering, pain, loss and heartache I had been through. But also what Love. What Life. What Joy. What Happiness as well.
Neither of us also knew, or could predict, what suffering, pain, loss or heartache we each may face ahead of us as we continue forward on this shared Journey of Life. But that didn't matter. Here in this moment.
He spends his energy and time, sweeping and cleaning the World around him. Having a little control over a Life that is probably seemingly out of control. Putting a little order in a World that is seemingly out of order. Maybe even sweeping away the regrets and shame of his past deeds. Comforted and Healed by the memory of being a child again, in a loving home. Doing chores, his part, of keeping the family together. A kinder and gentler time in Life before catastrophe set in.
The lesson for me. It didn't cost me anything for that exchange. A little breath in my words. A little delay in my journey Home. A little shyness to overcome. To show a little kindness and encouragement to another human being.
In a World where the rainforests are burning. Where oppressive governments face off with their own people. Where natural disasters change Life as we once knew it, and even take human Life. Where materialism and greed still reign supreme. We may not have much control right now over such dire global issues.
But we retain control over something very important. How we respond. How we respond to each other. Kindness. Compassion. Understanding. Tolerance. Acceptance. Love.
I spent nothing to try and lift another human being's Spirits up with a little kindness and appreciation. But what I was gifted back. was worth more than all the gold, jewels and currency in the World.
A feeling of Peace. Contentment. Purpose. Humility. Gratitude. To be Loved by a Stranger. To be Genuinely Blessed by his God. Where in my Heart of Hearts, I know we share the same God. All for the price of a simple genuine Smile.
Thank you Spirit Guides for the lesson. Mahalo Ke Akua. Take care my Beautiful Friend as you try to make this World a little more Beautiful for all of us. You certainly Swept me off of my feet. Now onto the Rest of the World...