Although the clocks sprung forward early this morning, my thoughts drifted back in time, to the arrival of 2021. There was a particular encounter that left an impression on me. I tucked the memory away for safekeeping. I knew the time would come when it would begin to stir within and ask to be shared.
As fresh-faced as you would expect a new year to be, it seemed like a rather bleak and ordinary morning, as I headed out to get some groceries. Perhaps the ashen streets were merely reflecting the emotional landscape within. Who could blame us? The previous year had been a very sobering one, to say the least!
As I walked absently along the street, I snapped to attention as I heard the words, “Happy New Year.” Glancing over to my left, I noticed a young woman sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk. She appeared to be homeless; yet, there was a sense of peace about her. I parroted the words back to her, not fully appreciating her gesture in that moment.
In the building where I live, there is rarely any communication in the elevator amongst strangers. In fact, people will often avert their gaze or only speak with their companion. There was a time when I tried to greet people or engage them in conversation. Sometimes I would receive an awkward, forced response and at other times, none at all. The odd time when someone had wished me good morning or good evening, it had instantly perked me up. I felt seen, acknowledged, and as if I mattered. I had forgotten about this. I wondered what it must be like for the homeless out on the streets, watching an endless stream of people pass by.
What struck me the most about the young woman who greeted me, was that she did not ask me for anything. How many times have we heard, “Can you spare some change please?” The three words she offered me were so much more than what I would typically receive, from the strangers living in my building. None of us like to feel vulnerable or be rejected. Yet, she put herself out there and seemed perfectly satisfied, simply to receive my reply. There was no angling for anything more.
There are times in life when we go through rough patches. Our self worth may be at a low ebb and we may question what we have to offer. It is not always about the material things. We can lend a sympathetic ear, turn up the corners of our mouth to share a smile, or use our voice to offer kindness, comfort or connection. This young woman reminded me that no matter how challenging our circumstances may be, we always have something of value that we can extend to another. She graced me with three beautiful words, wrapped with purity of intention and innocence, that still linger in my memory.
En route to the grocery store, I wondered if this woman would have a happy new year. I knew nothing of her situation but felt inspired to do something for her, within my means. I wanted her to know that her kindness mattered and that she had an impact on me. I was not sure what the world would do for her in the coming year, but I knew that I could do something in that moment.
On my way back, I purchased a gift card from a well known coffee shop chain, just across the street. I thought that a hot sandwich and beverage would be appreciated and hoped that her faith in humanity would also be affirmed. As I handed her the gift card, I wished her a happy new year again. On the sleeve of the gift card, I had written those same words and drawn a smiley face beside them. It made me happy to see the look of surprise on her face which lit up with gratitude, as she accepted the gift card and thanked me.
As it turns out, I think the surprise was also on me. Just the day before, I had started working with abundance affirmations. I was curious to see what kind of abundance I would manifest and how long it would take. Later in the day after that encounter, I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized how much abundance I already had in my life. I had a roof over my head, I never had to worry about my next meal, nor a countless number of other things. The encounter ushered in an abundance of appreciation for my life as it was. I had more than enough, and I was even able to share and help someone else out. I guess those abundance affirmations worked their magic, although not in a way I had anticipated. Such is the beauty of grace.