I reconnected with an old friend the other day. We’ve known each other since we were 8 years old or so, but lost touch with each other for the past 30 years. We had pleasant conversation. It was fun to listen to the older version of a voice from distant memory. It was good to catch up.
But the best part of the conversation involved an old poem I wrote for my friend’s wife and unborn child when she was pregnant 30-something years ago. He said that old poem, written on a scrap of paper bag, was still in the family, living with their daughter.
I remember nothing at all about the poem – I don’t even remember writing it. In truth, I’m not any good at writing poetry – never have been really. I suspect the majority of folks who read rhyme and verse I’d written would find it mediocre or bad. So, for myself and most folks, whatever words I wrote those many years ago would be forgettable at best.
But not for my friend’s wife. For her, the words meant something at that moment in her life, and she kept them all these years. Today, their daughter has given them three grandchildren. The words still live in the hearts of the mother and the daughter, and on that worn-out old paper bag.
That means a great deal to me. More than I can express. I might not remember the words, or even writing them, but the fact that those words meant so much to someone else puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart.
How often do these tiny little moments of opportunity happen in our life? How often are we presented with the opportunity to do some tiny little thing that feels small and insignificant to us, but has great meaning and value to someone else? How often do we drop seeds almost by accident, and those seeds bloom into something of great value within the life and heart and mind of another?
We build a universe of deeds done and words said with the steps we take along our journey through life. The universe can feel like a desert wilderness, where the deeds dry up without meaning, and the words evaporate before they can take root in anything. But for every acre of desert, there are many more acres of lush jungle, and we’re often poorly equipped to tell the difference.
Tiny little things we do or say often mean far more to someone else than they do to us. We’ll never know which words mean something, or which deeds are of great importance to someone.
Then, every now and again, some old scrap of a long-ago word or deed will float into our life, make us smile, and put joy in our heart. A gentle reminder not to pass up any scrap of a chance to leave behind a small act of goodness as we pass.
In my case, it’s an old paper bag with a few words scribbled on it.
“Each person must see himself as though the entire world were held in balance and any deed he may do could tip the scales.” ~ Maimonides