I am writing this post today as part of the 1000 Voices for Compassion campaign by bloggers all over the world. The goal is to have 1000 bloggers speak on compassion today, February 20, 2015 . Here is my contribution to this amazing project.
I am one person, and my life is small. I live alone with two cats, one whom I adopted as a stray, and the other whom I adopted from a nursing home that sadly had to get rid of its therapy pets due to allergies. (If adopting them was an act of compassion, then it was one from which I profited.) My acts of compassion, like my life, are also small.
I work in a bookstore. Some of my customers use wheelchairs, and some others have “brand new people” in carriages or strollers. It’s a small thing for me to ensure that the floors are clear and that displays are arranged so that there is space for them to get through. I let those who can’t reach the top shelves know that I will check on them periodically should they need help, including my younger customers who will someday be taller than me.
Yesterday, a couple of young men with developmental difficulties came into the store and sat on the floor to read some children’s books. They were blocking the aisle, so I squatted next to them and asked them if I could listen to a story. I told them that I had to be up front by the till to help customers, but I would love if they would join me and read to me while I worked. It wasn’t just a ruse to clear the pathway for others: I really was proud of them, and of whomever had taught them to read.
As I listened to the first one proudly reading aloud to me, I felt incredibly moved by his choice of story: The Little Engine That Could. I suspect it was a story with which he’d grown up, and I hoped that someone had lovingly shared that story with him so he’d know how much he could accomplish by believing in himself. As he read, I organised the area around the till, dusting and keeping myself busy, but glancing at him every now and then with a smile to let him know that I was listening.
After thanking the first man for reading to me, I asked the second what he would like to read. Blushing and and giggling, he declined. He had a number of books in his hands, so maybe he simply couldn’t decide which one to read. I hope he and his friend come into my store again, and that next time he will read me a story that has meaning for him.