Small Signs

An encouraging message was
posted in a university restroom (Imgur)
Each morning, I pour myself a cup of tea, settle myself at my desk in my Cloffice (a closet converted to an office), and sign in to Yahoo. I usually try to avoid reading their news pieces because, well, frankly, reading about school shootings, corrupt politicians, and economic woes really bums me out.

This morning, however, I found myself zoning out, staring at the news scroll on my computer screen (I guess my super-caffeinated tea hadn't kicked in yet).  I noticed the following title Inspiring Note Found in Stall.  I confess, the teaser aroused my curiosity.  I mean, who would leave a note taped to a bathroom stall?  And what would they even say?  "Sure, you are sitting in the bathroom at the Starbuck's in Omaha, but that doesn't mean you can't create great things!  After all, Van Gogh created masterpieces from an insane asylum."

And so, I clicked on the link to the article.

It turns out, the anonymous correspondent
taped their missive to a bathroom stall in a university, not a Starbuck's in Omaha.  And the note was a response to raw, candid graffiti written on the walls of the stall - heart-wrenching confessions about rape, loss, and self-loathing.

This anonymous note writer read the graffiti and responded with kind, encouraging words. (Read article here)

It got me to thinking.

How many times do we witness small signs of suffering and fail to act?  Sarah is an elderly cashier who works at my corner Price Chopper.  She is always friendly to me, but I sense a deep loneliness in her.  Shortly before Christmas I stood in her line, arms laden with baking supplies, listening to her confess to the customer in front of  me that she would be spending Christmas alone.  She said she did not have family or friends nearby.  She then quickly amended her statement, "I won't be completely alone.  I have my two poodles to keep me company."

The customer ahead of me nodded, mumbled some pat platitude, grabbed his grocery sack, and took off.

Sarah, a tall, slender woman with a neat gray ponytail, seemed to wilt a little, her shoulders rolling forward, her gaze a bit less bright.

I greeted her, paid for my supplies, and wished her a very Merry Christmas, making a mental note to buy her a small gift or take her in some homemade cookies.  Life intruded and I forgot to take Sarah her cookies.

Today, I will think of some small way to remind Sarah that she is not alone in this world.  That she has more than her poodles.

I realize I can't solve the world's woes - random acts of violence, economic crises, political corruption - but I can to perform a random act of compassion.

Thanks to Yahoo News for reminding me to pay attention to the small signs.

**Side but related note:  Earlier this week, I was driving in downtown Kansas City and saw an uplifting sign.  Someone had taken Dixie cups and pushed them into a fence on an overpass spanning a busy freeway, spelling out "YOU ARE LOVED."  Dixie cups.  A small act with a big message.


Nancy S. Brandt said...

thank you for reminding me that I can make someone else's day a little brighter just by acknowledging them as a human being, not just someone who has a task we need doing. I think I need to remember that more often.

Leah Marie Brown said...

Nancy ~

You are a wonderful person who makes a difference in the lives of many, many people.

Thanks for reading my blog, my friend.