A few weeks ago, I was driving home and a teenage boy walking his dog waved at me. Did I know this boy? Nope. I’d never seen him before. I didn’t know the boy’s name or what home he lives in around our neighborhood. I’d never had a conversation with him or pet his dog. Yet, he thoughtfully lifted his head and gave me a wave as I drove by.
Fifteen years ago, when I first moved to the southern part of the United States, this type of gesture totally surprised me. I’d think, “Do I know that person? Why are they waving at me?” Yet, their happy disposition spilled onto me and I couldn’t help but wave back. Nowadays, I’m used to the “wave”. As I drive around town or walk my dog around the neighborhood, more often than not, I’m waving at random people. When I travel to other towns, without thinking, I find myself waving at walkers on the road. I’m often met with a quizzical look. However, I find the “wave” makes living in a town brighter and friendlier. Living where civil niceties are shared helps me stay connected to those I may never speak to.
These days, dwelling on our connection with those we won’t ever meet is incredibly important. This past year, in a children’s ministry I help with, the talented instructor, Kirsten, had the children stand in a circle. She wove yarn all throughout them, connecting them in a web of string. She told half of the children to pull on their section of the web. The children on the opposite side couldn’t help but be pulled forward. Then, she had all the kids lift their hands high, the whole web moved. Finally, she told a few children to drop their yarn; the web crumbled. This was a powerful illustration of how our actions create a ripple effect for others.
By no means am I here to say I’ve perfected this. In fact, more often than not, I fail regularly all through the day. But, maybe this is why random acts of kindness are such a gift. When I’ve had a bad day, a stranger’s wave reminds me there is goodness in the world. And, waving back is simple! What does a wave cost me? Nothing, other than a single moment of my day. This single moment sparks an inner joy that desires to be spilled over to others.
So, today, let’s wave at someone we don’t know. Maybe our single wave will ripple through the world spreading joy as it goes.
“The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.” – Acts 28:2
What are ways you’ve experience kindness from those you don’t know? How can you spill this kindness to others?