Every day we are given countless chances to bless each other and be blessed in return. Who can fail to see this truth, especially now in this season of beauty and abundance?
Every day we are given countless chances to bless each other and be blessed in return. Who can fail to see this truth, especially now in this season of beauty and abundance? Who can fail to see how true it is that everything we yearn for we already have, just in the sense of connection we often feel with one another? These are truths I have lately sensed in doing even the simplest things -- like greeting the bus driver, say, and asking how she is, then listening, really listening, to her answer. I see it when I stop to thank that high school kid bagging my groceries, who has already put in a long day at school and is now chained to his post here, doomed to ask “Paper or plastic?” of the customers whose apples and canned goods keep barreling down toward him. We see it if we speak to the mailman who connects us to the world, by sticking out our hand one day to say, “Hey, I’m Joe, by the way.” And then maybe he will tell us his name and there we will both be, creating that spirit of easy amity that not only knits up the body politic but has the capacity to feed us every day of our lives. Fifteen years ago, I avoided our then-mailman because he seemed so gruff to me, with his clipped manner of speech. “This box is federal property!” he would bark if he saw that I’d left something in it for a friend to pick up. Then I learned that the young mother across the street was giving the guy glasses of lemonade all the time because he was such a sweetheart. Was I missing something? Well, yeah. So the next time we met, I began treating him as if I, too, knew all about this great sweetness of his, and sure enough, in no time at all we began having the nicest exchanges. He began to keep a watchful eye on our kitty, who had a habit of sneaking out to wander the neighborhood. “Go see your mother!” I once heard him cheerily call to her when he saw her ambling home after an hour’s mousy pleasures. Once he came upon me and my then-fourth-grader on the front porch where we were working on his costume for the big day at school when he would dress up, fat suit and all, to become William Howard Taft, the president so vast they had to build a special bathtub for him in the White House. “William Howard Taft!” cried our mailman. “Later, he was chief justice of the Supreme Court, you know!’ I had forgotten that if I ever knew it, but what I definitely did NOT know was that our former mailman was a history buff. So that year at Christmas I gave him a book on America at the time of the First World War, and the next time we met out front he said, “Hey, I’m reading your book! Did you know my father fought in that war, at 16 years old?” And of course I didn’t know that either. But I know it now, as well as a whole lot more about the man, all because one day 15 years ago my eyes were opened by a neighbor more daringly friendly than myself. He is retired from the postal service now, but I ran into our old mailman just last week buying plants for his summer garden. To learn about that exchange or share your story, go to my blog “Exit Only” -- or just drop me a line at email@example.com or c/o Ravenscroft Press at Box 270 in Winchester, MA 01890. I’d love to hear from you!