I was going through my mail at Memorial Presbyterian Church and at the bottom of the pile was a small purple envelope with my name on it. Inside the envelope was a poem from a friend. She said it was one of her favorite poems and wanted to share it with me, knowing that I had recently gone through a difficult experience. As soon as I saw the handwritten note and who it was from my day immediately brightened. My friendâ€™s small gesture of kindness made a difference in my life.
The old adage is true: little things matter. Small actions have impact just as drops fill a bucket. Like Mother Theresa wrote, â€œWe can do no great things, only small things with great love. Itâ€™s not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it.â€ The world religions all suggest that little acts of kindness, compassion, generosity or love are significant. To paraphrase the Greek poet Aesop, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
In 1941, Sofia Banya, a poor Polish farm woman, found that she did not have enough money to purchase food for her family at the village store. The Jewish shopkeeper, Israel Rubinek, told her to take the food and repay him when she could. This small act of kindness was unheard of in war torn Poland. And Sofia Banya never forgot it.
Two years later the Nazis rounded up Jewish people in Poland and sent them to concentration camps. Fearing for the life of the shopkeeper Israel Rubinek, Sofia Banya risked her life by hiding Rubinek and his wife in her home for two and a half years.
Decades later, the Rubineks reunited with the woman who sheltered them from the Nazis. The granddaughter of the Rubineks said, “That one act of kindness that my grandfather did to Sofia Banya, affected everything. His small act gave birth to immeasurable love in the heart of Mrs. Banya.â€ Itâ€™s true what Gandhi once said: â€œGentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are not the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.â€
Somehow weâ€™ve been fooled into believing that to make a difference in life, to have a real impact on this world requires us to be Hollywood stars or have money like Warren Buffet. But this is not true. To make an impact requires intentionâ€”and attention. Intention is determination to act a certain wayâ€”for example, to act generously. But intention without attention is not very helpful. You must pay attention to the people around youâ€”so that you intentionally show those people kindness, compassion, and love.
Hunter Camp is the associate pastor at Memorial Presbyterian Church (USA) in St. Augustine, FL. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org