This morning, I remembered a moment from 50 years ago that is quite relevant to the challenging, Coronavirus times we find ourselves living in.
I was 22, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a house on Martha’s Vineyard. As I sat there, the four-year old son of the couple who owned the house, came running past me. He was sobbing uncontrollably and I felt an undeniable urge to comfort him.
“Bobby,” I said, reaching his way, lifting him up, and placing him onto my lap, “What’s wrong, my little friend?” And the two of us just sat there, rocking back and forth together for a while, Bobby slowly calming down.
And then, just a few minutes later, his six-year old brother, Timmy, came running by. He was also sobbing, the same kind of super-sad tears Bobby had been crying just a little while ago.
“Timmy,” I said, reaching towards him. “Come on over here with your brother and me. It’s all going to be just fine, whatever it is.”
And so, now, the three of us were rocking back and forth on that front porch, Timmy’s tears soon ending, as well.
My job was a simple one, to hold the boys in my arms, continue rocking, and share some words of comfort. We continued that way for another few minutes and then, much to my surprise, their mother appeared from the back of the house. She was also sobbing.
The same part of me that had reached out to the two boys just minutes before also wanted to reach out to her, but I noticed I had no more lap left and my arms were full. I was totally maxed. So I just looked up and did my best to comfort her with words.
Yes, both of my arms were occupied, but I could feel my heart reaching out. I cannot say, for sure, if it made it all the way to her, or if she received whatever I was sending out, but it felt good to make the effort, really good — Bobby, Timmy, and I continuing to rock back and forth together, on that front porch, for what seemed like forever.
These, my friends, I do believe, are the times we are now living in. We are all on that front porch, so many of the people around us asking for comfort and support. While our laps might not be large enough for everyone and while our arms may already be full, we can still reach out. We can still comfort those in need. We can still, in a thousand different ways, extend our hearts in the direction of those who are needing support. Kindness is what’s needed these days, my friends. Kindness and empathy. Kindness and generosity, love, patience, courage, and a whole lot of compassion — in whatever form it takes.
And you can begin this very moment with the people on your own front porch.