Thursday, May 26, 2011

Acts of Kindness

I've been blessed recently to have been the recipient of several inexplicable acts of kindness and generosity. It all began about a month ago, when Calyssa and I were ending our annual visit to the Oregon coast. As we drove through Newport on our way out of town, I decided to pop into the Starbucks drive-thru to get a caffeine fix for the road. We placed our order as usual, but upon arriving at the pay-and-pick-up window, the barista told me that she couldn't accept my money; the man in the car before us, a complete stranger, had left $10 with her to pay for "whatever the lady and the little girl in the next car are having". I was (pleasantly) stunned. Who does that? Whoever you are, I wish I'd had the chance to thank you in person!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Calyssa brought home a flyer inviting her to attend a week of summer camp for Deaf and hard-of-hearing children, up in the Gold Country. My first thought: no way can we afford this. Then I took a closer look. Run by the Lions Club, I read that this camp costs families just $30. I immediately called to see if this was a typo. No, it's not; Calyssa is in fact now looking forward to attending a week of "Deaf camp" and I'm thrilled and humbled.

The most recent incident of kindness was just this week. I frequently attend a SEE sign language class offered by the school district at no cost to caregivers of kids in the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing program. As I helped the instructor, an interpreter at the high school, stack chairs after class, she offered to continue giving me lessons over the summer on a one-on-one basis. Again, I gratefully accept, but at the same time feel so abashed at the offer.

Money is always tight in a single-parent household, especially when the child has special needs. Calyssa and I live paycheck-to-paycheck, but I do try to keep room in the budget for some fun and special things. Perhaps in a feeble attempt to assuage my guilt at being unable to tithe, as a proper Presbyterian ought, I visit the Red Cross blood bank every two to three weeks to donate platelets. I happily volunteer at church and at Calyssa's school. In general I find it easier to donate time than money to my favorite worthy causes. I don't know why it's so hard to think myself a worthy recipient of donated time and kindnesses. Then again, the concept of salvation through unearned grace has always been the part of my faith I most struggle with, so I suppose it shouldn't come as such a big surprise that learning to accept blessings is such a challenge for me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


In the course of any given month, I play several different roles. I've been pondering this quite a bit today, as I realized that various titles append to my electronic correspondence. Perhaps the most obvious is "Mommy to Calyssa", which, not coincidentally, is my Twitter ID. But there's also "the Encore accounts person", "the choir librarian", "the Bible study snack coordinator", "the Daisy Scouts registrar", even "the Westwood PFC Box Tops coordinator". Half a dozen 8- and 9-year old girls know me as their "AWANA leader". Earlier today I enthusiastically accepted another; the precise title is to be determined, but it's coming.

But, as I was carrying on a text conversation with a new-ish friend today, he referred to me as a writer. I don't feel comfortable calling myself a writer. I can use any of the above titles freely because I can prove their suitability. But since writing is as yet strictly an avocation, in the words of the Smiths, "you just haven't earned it yet, baby".

Not to minimize the others in any way, but the only one that really matters (okay, besides "Mommy", which I wear proudly), that goes soul-deep, is "writer". Why is it that I feel so unworthy of a title I covet as much as this one? Must I have demonstrable evidence that I am justified in calling myself a "writer", and, if so, what would qualify as that evidence? A rejection letter, or better yet, a sale? Holding the first copy of my (book, magazine, tract, fill-in-the-blank) in my hands? I don't have any answers, but I'm going to change my profile here, right this minute, so that "writer" appears first, and I guess we'll see if I'll survive or if something shall smite me in my sleep...