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LISTEN TO YOUR HEART STRINGS

His name is Cory. He is young and I would guess he is about my age in his mid to late thirties. He is always wearing dark pants, a puffy, navy blue bomber jacket, baseball cap, and a red backpack slung sideways across his back. He walks with his hands stuffed inside his pockets; his head slightly down. There’s a sadness; a heaviness to his gait as he walks down the sidewalk-less, narrow, and curvy road toward town. I’ve passed him dozens and dozens of times as I drive my littlest one to and from preschool. I’ve always wondered what his story is. Who is this man? Is he walking to work?

There’s another person in town who walks the same route to work. I know she is walking to and from work because I see her behind the counter when I go to the grocery store or to the local packie. She is older with silver white hair and she is always smiling. She walks with a lightness about her – not too quick and not too slow. She seems to make eye contact with me, offering up her friendly smile as I drive by. She chooses to walk the 2 – 3 miles to work most days. But this man, Cory, my gut tells me he doesn’t have a choice.

Every time I have driven by Cory, something pulls at my heart strings. I’ve always wanted to stop and offer him a ride. I wrote about this the other night. I wrote about how I’ve been too afraid to stop and approach him. I was raised like most girls and taught to not offer rides to strangers. I understand where these teachings come from. They come from a place of fear. I had made up stories in my head, like we all do, about what might happen if I stopped to offer Cory a ride. He might hurt me. He might hurt my children. He might rob me. He might kill me. I made up stories, assumptions, and judgements about him and I am not proud of it. I saw myself as separate from him, when the truth is, I am not. I feel ashamed. I recognize if I am doing these things, I know other people are too. That hurts.

This man, Cory, I didn’t even know his name until yesterday. But yesterday I made the choice to stop. I chose to have faith. I chose to face the fear instead of running away from it. When I looked at the fear I saw how selfish I was being. Here was an opportunity to simply be love and I was denying myself and this man of it. By looking at fear straight in the face I saw I had another choice. I chose compassion and kindness over the fear. I stopped and rolled down my window to offer him a ride. He hesitated for a few seconds to say “yes” but quietly and graciously accepted the offer. As I looked over at him, our eyes met and I instantly knew I had made the right choice. I told him how I had driven by him so many times and never stopped because I was too afraid. I told him I was taught as a little girl to never offer rides to strangers. He understood. I told him how I had written about him and how it was time to choose compassion and kindness over fear. I asked him what his name was and where he needed to go. He did indeed share with me that he doesn’t have a car and that he is a cook and dishwasher at a local restaurant. He shared with me that it is very often a thankless job, but regardless it helps to pay the bills. He was quiet for the rest of the 4 minute ride. He thanked me a few more times and then got out of the car. I was forever changed.

It may seem like no big deal on the surface, but what I know to be true is that it is a big deal. That these small, simple acts of kindness can change someone’s life and change the world. They can help soothe and heal wounds.  What kind action can you take today?

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