I’m not a religious person. I grew up in a house with the vague understanding that there was a God that would smite you if you didn’t behave, so you always tried your best to be a good person. What does that mean to be a good person? Think of others over yourself, help a stranger if they need it, be polite, learn to contribute, work hard, and respect your elders(unless they’re a real asshole.)
Both my parents grew up going to church when they were younger, but as adults figured they could worship on their own, in their own way. That meant avoiding organized religion. I won’t say all organized religion is just a con to get God-fearing folks to give their money in tithing form every Sunday, but a lot of them are. Guys in nice suits and plastered smiles appealing to the congregation’s better angels in order to afford the coffee bar outside the sanctuary, or the $5,000 soundsystem for the church band to play rocking versions of “The Little Drummer Boy” during the Christmas eve service.
Okay, you get it. I’m not religious and I think organized religion is a sham.
But something happened recently that gave me hope. I’m not converted, but I see that there are some folks that take Jesus’ teachings to heart. They leave their political leanings and idealistic jargon at the church doors and try to just be good for the sake of someone not having a good day.
My 17-year old daughter was leaving our neighborhood to go to work Tuesday morning. As she was leaving she saw a Siberian Husky puppy at the edge of the road. My daughter was worried he’d run out into the road so she rolled down her window and yelled at him to get back. Instead of heeding her warning the pup bolted into the road where he was hit by an oncoming car. My daughter saw it all happen. She put her car in park and got out to help the driver of the car that hit the pooch, who happened to be a vet going to work. The vet asked my 17-year old if she had a towel in her car to help comfort the pup, so she grabbed one out of her trunk. They covered the dog, and my daughter helped the vet put the wounded pooch in her car. The driver then drove to the animal hospital where she worked to try and save the dog.
At this point my daughter had to continue her drive to work. She called my wife on the way and tried telling her what happened but couldn’t hold it together. My wife told me after she heard from her that she wasn’t sure if she just saw it happen or that she in fact was the one that hit the dog. She did just see it happen, thankfully, and wasn’t the one who hit the poor pooch. But that didn’t lessen the trauma of seeing it happen.
Once she got to work she was still pretty shaken and crying. One of the guys she works with saw how upset she was and went out into the store(they work at Walmart) and bought a card and a bag of candy. He wrote something into the card and gave it to her.
As a side note, our 17-year old had told us about this young man. He’s a year older than her and is pretty religious. He’s invited several of his co-workers to come to his church on a few occasions, and has said he would never be a group leader because he will not work on the Sabbath. I’ll give him credit for upholding his beliefs. I’ll do that.
Anyways, he had no idea what was going on with my daughter. Maybe he thought her boyfriend broke up with her, or she was having a drug-addled attack. Or maybe Satan was battling with God for her soul. No matter what the problem was, all he knew was that this girl he worked with was visibly upset. So he went to the card aisle and bought her a card and a bag of candy and handed them to her. This is what the card said:
Despite the little Bible lesson he put in there, there’s a genuine sense of care and concern there that quite honestly moved me. This young man took time out of his day to show someone he doesn’t know all that well that he’s thinking of her(or God is.)
Our daughter told us about this act of kindness after she got hoe from work. As she told us this, first about helping the vet put the badly injured pup into her car and then about this young man’s act of kindness, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. Sure there was the obligatory “God loves you no matter what” stuff in there, but I think there was an earnestness from the young man’s heart. I was also moved by my daughter’s act of kindness, helping this vet who’s job it is to save animals lives, put a near death dog in her car that she just hit. The circle of life, the paying it forward, the sad, overwhelming irony of it all was the kind of kindness-affirming thing I needed to hear.
Unfortunately the pup didn’t make it. He’d dug out of his backyard early that morning and had been wandering for close to an hour. The owners posted about their dog missing in the neighborhood’s Facebook page, so when our daughter called my wife and told her about this dog she sadly knew the fate of the neighborhood dog. My wife messaged the owners and told them what had happened, so they were able to get to the vet’s office. At least long enough to say goodbye.
I’m not reborn or anything, but this young man and his act of kindness has given me a little hope. Maybe not in organized religion, but in individual kindness. Pretty much the stuff my parents instilled in me.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone.