Michael was a senior at a high school in a different state where I was the principal a while back. He was an above average student, usually wore a smile, was rather quiet and unassuming, but popular with both students and staff. He loved participating in sports, particularly football. The problem was that Michael struggled with a rare form of cancer and had to put up with surgeries, with chemo, and with radiation treatments.
Towards the end of the football season when Michael was a senior, the head football coach wanted him to have the opportunity to play in a game and as a wide receiver, and to even catch a pass. This was tough because physically, Michael wasn’t in any shape and certainly couldn’t take a hit from an opposing defender. But the coach, Mark, contacted the opposing head coach and arranged that on the first offensive play, we were going to pass to Michael, who would hopefully catch it, and then run out of bounds. In return, one of our captains, a senior lineman, would false start on purpose, moving us backwards five yards. The opposing coach agreed.
That evening, just as it was planned, on our first possession on offense, Michael ran a quick out, the pass was made, he caught the ball, and ran out of bounds. There were cheers. The fans on both sides of the field stood and gave Michael a standing ovation, and I believe there were not too many dry eyes anywhere. I get choked up remembering the moment. I can’t remember the score or even who won the game, but I remember that moment.
Human Kindness Overflowing.
Earlier this week, there was a report on the news of two teams playing for a state basketball championship. Towards the end of the game, there was little doubt who was going to win. One team had a manager, a student, who had Asperger’s. He had never played, but they suited him up for his first game and towards the end of it, put him in.
There wasn’t much time left in the game. I believe it was under a minute. They passed him the ball, he shot and missed. The other team had it, turned it over on purpose, and the boy received the ball again. He missed. It was rebounded by the other team, and the opponent passed the boy the ball so he could shoot again, even directed him to get closer to the hoop. The boy shot and made it. The buzzer went off, and everyone cheered. I don’t know the names or schools of the two teams, but I know it’s a story I won’t soon forget. Sort of like Michael’s story.
Human Kindness Overflowing.
I stole that line from a Randy Newman song, one of my favorites.
I think that at times, maybe even more than you and I know, Human Kindness does indeed Overflow. I think of a girl and her family who doesn’t have much at all, yet she has contributed bags full of things to distribute to needy families. I remember a story about an elderly lady who lived alone. Her church was going to gift her with the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner. When they rang the doorbell, the lady saw who it was, stated, “Oh, I’m glad you stopped by. I have something I wanted to give to the needy.” She went back into her kitchen, grabbed a can of cranberry sauce and handed it to the priest, and said, “Sorry, I forgot to bring it to church this morning.” The priest accepted it with a thank you, and took the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner to someone else on the list. How could he not when this lady didn’t see herself in need?
Paying it forward at a Starbucks or at a toll booth. Someone paying for someone’s groceries when the person in front comes up short. Someone paying someone else’s bill. It happens. Sometimes we hear about it, and sometimes we don’t. But it does happen.
So, I ask you . . . today, right now, what can you and I do to help spread kindness in our world? Doesn’t have to great and glorious. Doesn’t have to be a headline in the newspaper. But what can you and I do?
Michael, the boy I mentioned earlier who caught a pass in a football game his senior year? He died a year or so ago. Gone way too soon. But for that one moment we know about, and for possibly many other moments we don’t know about, he was the recipient of Human Kindness. That’s the memory I choose to remember about Michael. That, and the players and coaches who afforded Michael to have that opportunity.
Human Kindness does indeed Overflow. Perhaps more than we know. Hopefully, more than we know. What can we do, you and I do, to contribute? Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!