A few weeks ago, I had been doing a lot of yard work while the kids were in school. When the time came to pick them up, I ran inside the house to wash mud and blood from my hands and then walked over to the school. I was standing outside when another mom came up to me and started to chat. She told me that I had leaves in my hair and then asked if she could take them out for me.
The next day, I drove to the store and bought her a thank you card. People don't get thanked nearly enough for the little things. For her, pulling leaves out of my hair was a little thing. But to me, it was a feet-washing kind of moment. To me, it was someone caring enough about me to help me out. I was moved, and so I wrote it down and thanked her.
Last week, a friend of mine asked me if I was interested in doing some part-time child care in my home for a friend of hers. I thanked her for thinking about me, but said that I am kind of overwhelmed these days, and that I couldn't take on another thing. Last night, she wrote me an email inviting me to call her if I ever wanted to talk. That she is a good listener. I lost it. I got all silly and emotional. People don't usually offer to help carry another person's burdens like that. I think maybe we're too overwhelmed ourselves to even think of asking another person if we can help them. We are supposed to be living in community, but we rarely do.
I've had two dreams in the last few months about various people cleaning my house with me. I know that's pretty weird, but hey, I've never claimed to not be weird. First, I had a dream that the cast of LOST came over to help me clean up a new house that I was buying. Sayid was in the kitchen. Kate was vacuuming. Jack was on his hands and knees scrubbing the floors of a hallway, and Mr. Locke was mowing the lawn. I broke out in giggles for the next week anytime I thought about it. It was pretty awesome. Then this week I had a dream that I lived in a house up in the mountains and that I had a sick kid or something. A bunch of people that I've met at various churches came over to help me clean. I remember something warm and sweet baking in the oven, a chicken in a crock pot, and people washing my windows as we all talked.
I CRAVE community. When I was a brand spanking new Christian, I would read the book of Acts and yearn for that kind of community. I used to talk with friends about how I wanted to rent out a building in Downtown Dallas and whoever wanted to stay there could. All our kids would hang out together all the time. We'd all have a chore or something and share what we had. Living in community like that would strip me of a lot of the privacy that I had, and I actually wanted that too. I want to share what I have and feel free to borrow what you have. I want to be allowed to just call up a friend if I need to talk. I want to be available and willing to pull leaves out of my neighbors' hairdos. I want to sit outside on a blanket in the front yard when my neighborhood's kids are walking home from school and invite them over to eat granola bars and apples and talk about their day and maybe help with their homework. I don't want to run an after-school program; I want to be a place where kids know they can go if they want some help with math or something to fill their tummies until dinner is ready. It's a little thing that might mean something big to someone.
For the past two years, I've brought in a big ol' box of donuts to the kids' school and left them on a table in the Teachers' Lounge with a little note that says "Free Donuts. Thanks for all you do." I do it a couple of times a year. We also have a super sweet guy who is a Crossing Guard in front of the school. He's got the best smile in the world - the kind of smile that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside no matter which side of the bed you woke up on. He reminds of Mr. Rogers from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Up here in Colorado, it gets really cold. It will be snowing when you drop off your kids at school. I have the luxury of driving my kids to school when it's super cold. But a lot of kids walk and that Crossing Guard makes sure they get to class safely. No matter how cold it is, he's out there, smiling his smile that makes mornings not suck so bad. While I'm in my SUV, heat turned up to 'Surface of the Sun', drinking my hazelnut coffee, opening the door just enough so the kids can squeeze through to go to class. One morning, I made two hazelnut coffees and gave him one. It was a very, very teeny tiny thing compared to what he does, and I didn't think it was possible, but his smile got even bigger than usual. I thought his face might break in half. It was awesome! Something that simple made him smile that big.
I have a philosophy that I like to use with my kids. When they ask me whether or not they can do something, I have to find a good reason to say No if I'm gonna say No. If I can't find a good reason, I say Yes. That results in spending a lot of time on my gut, digging in the dirt with Josh, invading some worms' homes. It results in lots of tea parties with Gillian, complete with getting each other ready for it with lip gloss and high heels. It results in LOTS of sitting down with Jack and building train tracks to zoom trains and cars across. Sometimes (and I can usually think of a GOOD reason to say No to this, but sometimes I can be convinced), it results in me sitting on the couch, with dirty dishes in the sink and stinky laundry on the floor, while three little kids sit as close as possible to my body and watch cartoons for an hour. If I'm willing to do this for my kids, why don't I do it for my community? How much more effort would it take for me to fill up another cup of coffee to hand out to a cold mama dropping off her kids? How much more effort would it be to double the cookie dough and take the second batch of cookies to the fire station to hand out to firefighters? What's wrong with sitting outside on a blanket in the front yard with a bunch of bananas while I'm helping my own kids with their homework so that I can be available to help my neighbors' kids with their homework?
Sometimes, it just takes a little to mean a lot.