At this writing, it happened two and a half weeks ago on a Wednesday afternoon. I was about to close up shop at my hot dog stand and was feeling a bit downhearted about the sales for the week when a random customer walked up. She was an attractive, welldressed African American woman and before I could even say “Hello”, she said that she didn’t want a hotdog, she just wanted to let me know I was blessed.
There was an awkward silence on my part because I didn’t understand. I probably said something like What? or Excuse Me? She just repeated what she said – that I was blessed, and she wanted me to know it. Then she did it. In a simple act, she reached out and put that moment into cosmic orbit. She handed me a twenty-dollar bill, repeated again that I was blessed, and then turned and walked back to her car and drove off. While I was still in shock, she waved at me as she drove down the street. I instinctively responded, still not knowing exactly what had just happened.
At first, I started thinking about things I could buy for myself with this newfound money. Twenty dollars would buy me half a tank of gas for my car or several cups of gourmet coffee or maybe even dinner somewhere. There were countless possibilities.
But then I started to think a bit deeper about what had just happened. I was not a bum on the street begging for money. I didn’t even feel that I deserved such a generous gift. So why me? What had I done to warrant this level of kindness? These questions led only to more questions that I am still, kind of joyfully, struggling with.
For instance, I started having conversations with myself like, was that part of something bigger? Was she on a tour of Navasota handing out money and blessings? Was she an angel who had taken the form of a human? I don’t have any answers to these questions and that still intrigues me. Maybe this was a practical exercise in “Loving Your Neighbor,” or could it be a step to change the world with kindness and understanding? Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I think this brief moment in time could be seen as a conduit to overcoming fear and embracing everything that is good about the human race. Not one ethnic group or another, just all of God’s children working to restore relationships, together striving toward peace.
I will never forget that moment as long as I live. It was not a random act of kindness. It was an intentional deed of dynamic caring. I have always given money to various charitable organizations and to my church, but this was something different. I have since come to realize that it wasn’t even about the money – it was about the loving kindness that can and will heal our world. Faith beats doubt, love beats hate, and hope beats fear. In the end God wins; in the meantime, we have to use his playbook so that we can win with Him. That, and the unconditional love of my wife - is what keeps me going. And I can only dream that I am doing a fair job.
Oh, and about the $20, I plan on passing it on just as it was given to me. I just hope that whomever receives it will have an open heart, the willingness to pass it on, and will experience the joy that will come to them when they do so.
Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County, the owner of Grill Sergeant and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.