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.