I saw this picture on the internet and it burned its image into my soul. All of my little list-making for the day, ‘next-up’ activities and other scurrying about voices in my head stopped; all was quiet inside as I looked at the image of a man giving his shoes to a dirty scrawny boy who had none.
It is not the desperate plight of the boy that moves me, unfortunately it is all too common across the world; it is the uncommon singular act of compassion offered by the man.
This act of compassion, the reaching out directly from one soul to another, is the key to our spiritual and emotional growth and survival. Has someone ever done something for you that, while to others it may have seemed trivial and insignificant, to you it was just the boost that you needed to make it through another day?
I have had many acts of kindness bestowed on me, some by total strangers; presents given to my children by friends when I could afford none, jobs mysteriously 'created' when I needed cash, a hot meal and a roof when I had no place to go.
These acts of kindness have not been forgotten, rather they have become the building blocks in the foundation of my spiritual being as I grow and learn and move through life.
This kind of charity does not come in the form of truckloads of government cheese picked up at a faceless warehouse or sacks of wheat and corn dropped by anonymous helicopters. The charity that comes straight from my hands to yours, or from your feet to mine, involves looking directly into the face of pain and suffering – no averting of the eyes – and reaching out to hold hands with your fellow human in need.