Learn what can happen when you feel the power of a tiny gift.
What I received today from a stranger was extraordinary – the power of a tiny gift. Such a simple gift; one from his pocket to my hand. A gift he gives freely and easily to strangers, to people he knows and especially to those who may just need a pick me up, like a good cup of coffee.
One of my favorite things to do when I go to Long Island to visit my hometown is to swing by Park Bakery (Kings Park, NY) and pick up some bread to take home to New Hampshire. The bread in NY is amazing and it tastes like home to me. On this Sunday morning, Palm Sunday Morning, the Start of Holy week, I noticed a gentleman who looked like so many Long Island residents to me. He was in his late 60s early 70’s sitting at the one table in the corner with his coffee greeting customers as they came in and got online to make their purchases. Because of Covid the bakery is now one way in and one way out so everyone had to pass him. I with my mask and he with is bare half smile said, “good morning I have a free cup of coffee for you” he reaches out his hand to give me a coffee candy, “I give these out all the time to people.” So began our 10-minute encounter of smiles, forgiveness, kindness, and love.
Being a native New Yorker I am often on guard or skeptical of kindness, but I always trust my gut and my intuition. I could tell he was kind, maybe a little lonely, tired just from life, he clearly just wanted to connect with people and share a “coffee”.
He ended up being the first stranger I ever said I love you too, out loud and with meaning. What happened in that short conversation was pure love, understanding and a heart to heart. Few words were needed, just an openness and listening ear.
I do not remember the entire conversation, but I do remember a few points and how it made me feel.
He told me that he has lived here since 1968 and I thought I was only 3 then. That he was going to be moving to the Carolinas to be closer to his son, and his ex-wife. He said, “I am not moving in with my ex-wife, but I am moving there to be closer to my son.” He seemed unsure of the move, neither excited nor dreading it, just indifferent at least to me. He spoke about forgiveness and his wife having difficulty accepting his forgiveness. Apparently, his wife left him and married his best friend, it seemed like a lifetime ago and when he told his ex-wife he forgave her she was in disbelief she asked “do you forgive me for everything” he shared once you forgive you forgive, there is no halfway. I thought to myself he is right forgiveness is all or nothing. It reminded me that to forgive the little things is to forgive the big things, because once you accept the person back into your life, all you can do is love them once again.
At one point in his life, he realized that no one said I love you to their friends, family, and those they truly loved. It just wasn’t said. We all loved many people in our lives, but we just didn’t say it like it is said today. I agreed with him that growing up on Long Island I did not hear men say I love you to their friends, I did not even hear women say it, as I often hear it today. He had decided to begin to say I love you because he felt life is too short. He shared that the first time he said I love you to his buddies he got the look, you know the one, where your friends think you’re a little off, but they know you meant well. I think he was ahead of his time, a New Yorker telling his buddies and other people in his life who are not his immediate family he loves them, just was not done back in the day.
This gentle man decided that he was going to share a simple tangible gift “coffee candy” to spread the most priceless gift of all unconditional love for a stranger.
“Next”, it was my turn to make my purchase, I thought how am I going to say goodbye to this gentleman who touched me in a way he may never know, I graciously and openly received his gift, what gift could I give him. I knew without any hesitation, the only way to part from this kind gentle man would be to say, “I love you, thank you, and have a wonderful day.”
I do not know when I will say openly out loud in public “I love you “ to a stranger again, but I hope as I walk through life I remember to share love and forgiveness freely and often.
Because he decided that he was going to spread love into the world he began by finding his way to share a cup of coffee through a small piece of candy. This ended up being a priceless gift of love – the TRUE power of a tiny gift – the feeling I was left with from his thoughtfulness. What tiny gift might you have to offer?