Here at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life we are constantly preaching about serving the neighbor. But what does that mean? It means many things. But it also means serving someone when you least expect it.
Here’s an example that recently went viral: Photo of a Shoe Salesman Helping a Boy With Autism Is Going Viral For All the Right Reasons.
Here’s the story that goes with the photo, as told by the boy’s parents:
Last week we brought our 6-year-old son, River, to the Clarks Village outlet store in Street to be measured for school shoes. Being autistic, he really struggles with crowds, long queues and noisy places. The store was heaving! I knew there was no way he would cope with that environment so I explained the situation to a member of staff. Without hesitation, Aaran led us away from the noise and crowds to a staff room and placed a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. He was very patient with River, who was anxious, and went and got lots of different shoes for him to try on. We left with a great pair of shoes, a very happy boy—and Aaran also gave us the store number and said they’d happily book us an appointment before the store opens so that it’s quiet. Autism acceptance at its best! Thank you Clarks in Street, and a massive thanks to the shop assistant Aaran Daniels.
Mr. Daniels probably didn’t go to work that day thinking he would make a difference in the life of an autistic boy and his parents. But when the situation presented itself, he acted with thoughtfulness and with heart. And that did make a difference.
It was a simple act; yet it made a profound difference to the people he helped.
Serving the neighbor is an everyday thing
When we hear that we are supposed to love and serve our neighbor, it might sound like we have to do great deeds of self-sacrifice and heroism. And sometimes we do.
But usually it’s much simpler than that.
Usually it just means doing our everyday job and our everyday tasks with thoughtfulness and heart. Most often, serving the neighbor happens in the course of our ordinary life at work, at home, or around the neighborhood.
Yes, some people do great deeds of self-sacrifice and heroism as part of their job. But most of us live much more ordinary lives. We work at an office or retail store or fast food restaurant. We take care of the house and yard. We go to parent meetings or baseball games or neighborhood block parties.
Thankfully, for most of us on most days, there is no great disaster requiring courage and heroism.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities to love and serve our neighbor.
Most of our life is a series of small, simple acts. We serve a customer. We lend a hand to the person who lives next door. We wave and smile at someone passing by. And sometimes, like that shoe salesman, we have an opportunity to do something extra special for someone.
The greatness of small, everyday thoughtfulness
It may not seem like much.
But these are the threads of gold from which human life and human community are woven.
We don’t always know what the people we’re helping are going through. We don’t always know the struggles they’ve had that day—or the struggles they face every day. We may not realize that our small act of thoughtfulness and heart gave them a lift that helped them through their day.
In the course of your daily life when you might be super busy or stressed, an opportunity might present itself to serve a neighbor. Seize the day when those opportunities arise!
It may seem simple, and even insignificant.
But add up all these threads of gold woven through our lives, and through the lives of the people we see each day, and the effects are profound.
Day by day and moment by moment we are weaving the beautiful fabric of human kindness, human community, and human life.
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