Tag Archives: community

Life Passages XVI – A New Feeling

Madeleine can’t help herself. She knows that it is impolite to stare. Even down right creepy if its overt. Still, she uncontrollably gazes at all the teens, and young adults laughing, chewing at pizza slices and taking turns at sharing one funny story after the other. Everyone had been extremely cordial, and  welcoming toward her. Quite frankly, Madeleine had never met such a friendly bunch of young people in her whole life. What was even more peculiar was that they didn’t seem to want anything from her but seemed to genuinely want to know who she is. She really is. Hmmm…

She also couldn’t take her eyes off of Samantha. The lean eighteen year old with thick caramel brown curly locks, darker than her own intense auburn hair, appeared to have a special bond with Devon. They seemed to almost finish each other sentences. Madeleine’s eyes are repeatedly drawn to the young woman. She carried herself as though she didn’t have a care in the world, and easily made conversation with the diverse group of individuals. Madeleine deduced that there were at least six different cultures represented there. Still, here attention kept meandering back to Samantha. A tinge of jealously began to surface. She felt it pricking at her, like small pins being used to hem the edges of her soul. Madeleine shakes her head hoping it will dispel any negative thoughts, and feelings, all at once. Suddenly, Devon slips in next to her after animatedly telling a story on his feet. “Hey! You okay?” Devon stared into her eyes searching for her true, and immediate feelings. “I know that this bunch can be overwhelming, but they are harmless.” His grin warmed her, filling in any spaces of loneliness amidst this group. Surprised by her own new feelings she shifts her body ever so slightly away from Devon. Her heart racing, she gestures to stand up.

“Um…Devon, I…um…should get going.” Madeleine is half way up from the community bench, her knees bent, with an apologetic look on her face. “I am having a good time…It’s great to meet your friends, but you know how my parents are about um…punctuality.” She is fully standing at this juncture, using her body language to petition to Devon to let her pass him.

Devon stands and faces Madeleine, blocking her from slipping pass him. “See! I knew something was up. Too much too soon, huh?” Devon is playful, grinning from ear to ear.  “At least let me walk you home.” Devon’s voice couldn’t have sounded any kinder right then, and there as far as Madeleine was concerned. “Oh Com’on! Okay. I am not taking no for an answer, you know?” Devon cleared the way, and let Madeleine by. She slips out easily, gently waving to the others who one by one began to notice that she was leaving. “Are you leaving already?” Samantha jumped up and drew closer to her from the other side of the communal table in the pizza shop. “You just got here! So, when are we going to see you again?” Samantha smiles broadly, radiating a natural beauty that makes Madeleine want to fade into the background.

Somewhat intimidated, Madeleine attempts to present her case to Samantha. “Um…I just have lots to do. You know?” Madeleine begins to feel the words coming more easily. “Not sure when I will see you guys again. We’ll see.” Madeleine forces a smile at Samantha, the young adults seated, and then at Devon on her left, hoping she’s sold her position well. “So…I’ll see you guys. Thanks again. It’s been great! Goodbye.” Madeleine waves at the crowd, and starts moving toward the door, still unable to make a clean getaway. Devon stares at Madeleine, almost sympathetically. Eventually he stands aside, allowing Madeleine to slip by.

“Alright then, if you must.” Devon relents shaking his head, unable to get it straight as to what else it would take to convince Mads that she can trust him. She can trust his friendship. “So like I said, I’m not taking no for an answer.” Devon begins to follow Madeleine out of his group’s popular hangout spot. She looks back over her shoulder. Her stomach turns just a bit. She keeps walking forward. When she clears the store’s entrance she turns around to face Devon on the sidewalk.

“Seriously! I’m good. I can make it home alone.” Madeline didn’t mean to sound as firm as she did. “I mean…please go have fun with your friends.” Madeleine hopes her second attempt worked to accomplish her, now very familiar, escape. She held her breath waiting for him to respond. “Here’s the thing Mads, I get it. Maybe I should have had you hang out with just Sam and I at first, then introduced you to the larger group.” Madeleine swallows hard. Her suspicions are being confirmed by the second. Samantha is someone special to Devon.

“It’s cool.” Madeleine is anxious to leave. “I got to go. Bye Devon.” Madeleine smiles sweetly at the young man whose brilliant brown eyes she’s grown fond of looking into now. She begins to twist her shoulders, motioning to walk away again. This time Devon tugs her left wrist, with his right hand. “Mads, I think you should chill with a bunch like this. They don’t mean any harm. Seriously.” Devon is sincere. He is intent on selling her the idea of friendship again.

Madeleine can’t help but search Devon’s eyes for what seemed like a very long thirty seconds, or even a minute. She had to know if he was really as nice as he seemed. Can he be trusted? Can she let her guard down? Can she let him in completely? “Oh really?” Is all she could manage to respond. Ahem. Madeleine clears her throat. “Devon, I don’t know…um, can I think about it?” Her eyes are wide. They’re pleading with Devon to understand her position. Pleading with him to give her the space she needs. Devon studies Madeleine closely too. His faith dictates that he look out for the opportunity to guide the loss back home. He terribly hoped that Madeleine could see he has no schemes up his sleeves to hurt her, in the least bit. “Please.” She makes one last effort.

Devon takes Madeleine’s two hands into his, and stares empathetically into her jade green eyes. “I understand. You think about it.” Madeleine’s stomach makes a complete flip. Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum. Her heart races, the sound growing louder, and louder filling her ear drums. She can’t take it. The sound of it, as though her chest was near exploding. She pulls her hands away with a strong force, and stares at her feet. A somewhat startled Devon pauses and watches the young woman across from him for a long while. Madeleine’s eyes are fixed on the ground. She can’t bear to look up at him just yet.

Like a message from the heavens, it dawns on Devon that he has perhaps gone too far? He takes one step forward to present his case. Madeleine immediately takes one step back barely looking up at Devon. Devon stops. His eyes are still fixed on Madeleine, carefully observing her body language. Not quite sure what to say or do. He makes an attempt anyway. “Um…Mads, are you okay?” Madeleine desperately wants to run away, as usual, but this time the touch of Devon’s hands has left her somewhat paralyzed. She takes her time, trying to calculate the correct reply or next move to  make. She swallows long, and slowly.

“I am okay. I just need to head home. I…I think I may be coming down with something. Don’t want to spread it.” Her words are calculated, accompanied by strained laughter. Eventually she looks straight into Devon’s eyes. “Got to go Devon. I’ll see you…Thanks. Bye.” She’s assertive but with kind. She inches away still facing Devon for a few seconds, then turns and walks away briskly leaving Devon staring on, transfixed. He isn’t quite sure what he should do. He genuinely wants to help Madeleine. He wants to help her to break down her walls, and let community in. The right sort of community. Individuals who acted out of a sense of purpose, rooted in faith. But had he gone about it the wrong way? He truly…truly wondered. Madeleine is fun. Madeleine is intelligent. Madeleine loves graphic novels, just like him. Madeleine is lonely. As he stood watching her walk away alone, he strongly considered whether his intentions for gaining her friendship were purely to help a lonely, and hurt girl find true friendship again, or whether it was something else.

LifePassages16 (2)




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Short Stories on Kindness


– By Diane G. Robertson

I. The Storm

I visited the United States with the thrill for adventure and anxious to witness what all the commotion was surrounding Halloween. It was not more than a few days into my visit when I realized that what was entitled; Hurricane Sandy was heading my way.

As I was not used to these sorts of foreboding circumstances, on vacation no less, I began to be extremely concerned. What was I to do? As it became closer to the event of the storm, no matter how much hotel staff educated me and answered my questions, their responses brought no solace. I still felt lost.

On the Sunday before the hurricane was due to arrive; I stumbled into a church not too far from my hotel. The welcome was unexplainable but comforting and warm. It was as if I visited an old friend whose genuine concern calmed my soul. One young woman in particular observed, what I describe; my awkward “newness” and was drawn to me. She offered to help me, answered my several concerns and graciously took me to the grocery store to acquire whatever treats and other accessories I needed.

I was overwhelmed with her kindness and by the time I returned to my hotel room, I felt more at peace and more prepared to withstand the monstrosity that was being described as Hurricane Sandy.

II. Stepping Out

I was recently told a story by a young woman who decided to take matters “into her own hands” and quit her full time and secure Government job. She was “stepping out in faith”, she said. Her job although appreciated was beginning to stifle her creativity and what she believed she had been called to do. Therefore she resigned and boldly stepped out into a new and different circumstance that she had no real idea how she was going to navigate.

She quickly made an inventory of her talents and those things she longed to do, if only she could. She did research, sought wise counsel from friends, mentors, and her friend’s mentors, about how she could turn her passion into a money making venture. This young woman was certainly diligently in her approach. Yet despite good planning and appropriate application, the young woman began struggling to meet her financial needs. The business was not gaining momentum just yet. As a result, she began to worry. The concern consumed her.

One day a good friend, of this young lady, just happened to be checking in on her. She was a pound woman and didn’t broadcast her troubles.

However, after hearing her plight, the friend instantly jumped into action. She asked the woman to share her list of bills and expenses and together they worked on an elaborate plan to get them paid including the friend offering and following through with as many payments as she could.

The young woman began to become extremely relived and less stressed. She was now able to more clearly foresee a plan to work toward her goal without additional mental strain. She would work hard within the period of grace her friend had provided. This woman did go on to be successful creating decorative pieces and greeting cards. She was able to abundantly sustain herself and repay her friend.

III. It’s Awkward to Start

Too often we get caught up with our own lives that we don’t pause to look around to identify where there may be a need. Some needs are extraordinary but some are simple and only require a little bit of time.

One a young woman was walking among the shops in search of a snazzy outfit to impress later on, at a soirée. She attentively went from shop to shop intent on accomplishing the vision and image she had set out for herself.

While in one of the stores, as she concentrated on the array of dress selections, she overheard a woman speaking loudly in an alien language. Although not fluent, she recognized the language. It was Spanish. It appeared that there was a foreign visitor who had come into the shop and having difficulty communicating with the store clerk. From what she could identify, the young woman realized that this tourist was asking the store clerk to make change from the money bills that she had acquired. The store clerk also began to seem to becoming increasingly frustrated. The young woman decided to take a chance with her small knowledge of Spanish and jumped in to help both women come to a solution.

After a slow and awkward start, the young woman was eventually able to convey to the store clerk exactly what the visitor needed. Once the visitor received the help she was seeking, she overwhelming thanked the young woman who rescued her. She urgently needed the funds to obtain transportation to obtain a child-member of her traveling party whom they realized they had lost at a previous location.

IV. Pausing to Notice

Twenty-four old Loni, a recent university graduate, routinely packs much into her schedule with the plans to be hugely successful. This sometimes prevents her from stopping to appreciate the little things in life. One day while busily rushing from place to place to satisfy work demands and then beneficial extra-curricular activities, Loni set out to take the rails. While traveling, she noticed a young woman with a small child sobbing in her chair. Loni quickly decided that this was none of her business and began reading a book. However, the visual haunted her and she contemplated how she could help the woman. She decided to say a quick prayer and slowly motioned over to the woman. Loni chose her words carefully and asked the woman directly; “How can I help you?” The woman then responded; “Simply pray. I am a recent widow, the victim of cancer. I knew my husband would go eventually when I married him. Thankfully, he lasted long enough to see his daughter born.”

Loni froze at hearing this story. Her head dipped and her chain touched her chest. She slowly turned to the woman and said; “I will pray for sure. God be with you and your little Girl.”

Loni confesses that this experience has changed her life tremendously. Now amidst her plans to advance her life, she looks for ways to serve others.

V. Love Beyond Belief

There once was a single woman who although raised to follow the principles of the church and sheltered by her parents, decided when she got to University, to explore a world outside the one she knew. As a result, she adopted a different lifestyle and became pregnant. The months before the baby came, was filled with emotional upheaval and mental anguish. Amidst being unsure of the commitment of the child’s father, she also struggled with thoughts of uncertainty about the future –about remaining in school or working full-time? What would her family’s reaction be?

On learning about their daughter’s pregnancy, the woman’s parents were shocked! After overcoming their initial grave disappointment, they took their daughter in assuring her that “everything will be okay”. This act of kindness opened this young girl’s eyes to genuine love and forgiveness.

After the child was born – and grew to about 3 years old – the young lady returned to colleague where she immediately joined up with a on campus Christian organization and educated high school and university women about the importance of not rushing into to decisions that can yield untimely circumstances.

VI. Going Beyond the Need

Every evening walking from work to her vehicle, 29 year old Darla noticed that the same middle-aged woman – camped out in front of the building once over from her work-place – asked her for money to buy something to eat, claiming she was very ill and without shelter. Darla responded to every request, doling out $2 here or $5 there. However she began to ponder on the situation and realized that the woman’s situation was not changing as much as she offered her money. So one day Darla decided to speak with the woman. She inquired about more of her story to learn how she can better assist her.

Therefore after speaking with the woman in need, Darla did some research and contacted an organization that helped house and feed individuals. This woman’s situation was also unique due to her medical needs. Still Darla persevered in collaborating with more than one appropriate agency to ensure that this woman was provided with the elements she needed to have a better quality of life.

Two months later, and after conducting periodical checks on the woman, Darla was inspired to visit a church connected to one of the agencies working with the former homeless woman. After attending her first service, Darla began to grow close to, who was now her friend Marlene.


VII. Plans On Hold

Thirty year old Darlene routinely walks briskly into her apartment building, checks the mail boxes in the lobby for new mail and bolts up to her residence. On one Friday evening, after collecting her correspondence, and just as she began to race to her apartment – to get ready for an evening out with “the girls” no less – she noticed one of the building residence she was familiar with sitting silently in the building’s foyer looking quite despondent.

Darlene looked at her watch. She only had 45 minutes to prepare prior to heading back out for a fun time with friends and it ordinarily took her 1 hour to be dressed. However she paused looked at her neighbor and said; “Anna, is everything okay?” Anna looked up slowly with a kind half-smile; “It’s my mother. She is ill.” Darlene then proceeded to sit next to Anna and let her tell her story.

When their conversation was over an hour had past but Anna relieved to get the information “off her chest” seemed brighter. Darlene then contacted her friends to let them know that her plans had changed and treated Anna to dinner instead.

Darlene later learned that, that evening gave Anna a renewed confidence to endure her mother’s illness who after some time with surgery and recovery improved remarkably.

VIII. Add Hers to Mine

Standing in line at the grocery store, there was an elderly woman in front of me who struggled to get a handle on her cash. She kept looking at the cashier’s screen and looking back at her wallet. She counted, and added but could not come up sufficient funds to pay for all her food items. As the senior began to ask the cashier to deduct items from her account, I felt badly for her and considered be of some assistance. I then piped up and said; “Please add the balance of her tab to mine”.

The woman raised her head toward me in amazement. Before she could get any words out, I uttered with a smile on my face; “It is my pleasure”.

IX. Beyond The Boundaries of Color

Often times individuals from varying ethnicities wonder how the other would perceive, as well as receive them and tend to be comfortable in their own and separate circles. However, one day while traveling the rail I witnessed an older fair-skinned man – between 45-50 – struggling to keep his briefcase and its contents in order. As papers from his bag began to collide with the floor, a dark-skinned young individual, about 21 to 25 was the first to rush to his aid.

Looking at the strange hands working together in unison with his the gentleman in need couldn’t help but smile appreciatively. When all was well and in one place, the two men gave each other a firm hand-shake and what seemed like a nod of understanding that human kindness had taken place.

X. My Pleasure

Traveling on the bus one day, June looked up from her intriguing book to notice a woman holding up the bus from moving forward. She got onto the bus but was short of change and the bus driver refused to move forward until she could pay the entire fare.

Bewildered by the bus driver’s lack of compassion – to not see that the woman was elderly and needy – June immediately sprang to her feet, scrambled to get her purse and stepped up to pay the woman’s bus fare.

The woman repeatedly thanked June and sprouted Blessings from God upon her. June humbly smiled and whispered; “My pleasure”.

XI. Going The Distance

Regina visited the gas station for her weekly “fill-up”. While there she was approached by a small shabbily dressed child. Beginning to retreat a bit, Regina spoke up; “Do you need something?” The child pointed to a car parked on the fringe of the gas station and explained that he, his Mother, and 2 siblings were camped out in the car homeless and in need of something to eat.

Regina was initially hesitant and skeptical. However, a small still voice within her compelled her to go with the young man to the car to talk with his Mum.

The interaction resulted in Regina accompanying the youngster to the nearby Fast Food eatery to purchase meals for the entire family.

The look of gratitude on the children’s – and the adult’s – faces warmed Regina’s heart greatly and all her skepticism melted away!


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