Eternal Gratefulness

In 2006 – when the economy was surging with no apparent end in sight – we decided it would be good to let our children experience the struggles less fortunate people endure.  So on Thanksgiving, we joined with other families from our parish to serve at a homeless shelter in downtown.

There we encountered men and women whose lives no one would choose to endure. Yet amidst all of the pain and suffering from ailments, abuse and avoidance, there was gratitude. As they made their way through the line to receive turkey and all the fixings, some responded with words and smiles, others simply nodded. I struck up a side conversation with a young man who said he arrived in Houston three nights earlier, having been dropped from a bus after being released from prison. “I don’t know anything about living on the street,” he said. “I’m scared, and have no idea what to do.”

Watching our youngest, who was eight, refill water glasses and hand out cake, I realized she had no fear at all. To her these were just people and she was getting to help them. It was a wonderfully fulfilling day for the five of us… and we returned at Easter and a few other times over the next few years. With each opportunity to serve came joyous feelings of playing a small part in making our community a better place. I believe our children have a clearer understanding of the world because of those simple acts of kindness.

Today, as you break bread with your family and give thanks for the many blessings in your life, take 10 seconds to remember those who are alone and adrift. There are a lot more people hurting than five years ago… and every one of them could use your prayer.


Reading Rainbow

Driving home today from one of my ‘downtown clients’, I saw a rainbow in the sky.

Most folks spend so much time searching for pots of gold (read: strategic initiatives, financial results, new products, higher compensation, more customers, nicer cars) that we forget to enjoy rainbows.

They’re quite beautiful, of course… and made famous one ROY G BIV. (I learned that acronym in college and still remember those colors of the rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.)

Rainbows are here one moment. Gone the next.

Increased earnings, bigger houses and acquiring a competitor… those last a lot longer.

They are important.

Rainbows are beautiful.

Life is better with both.

Seen a rainbow in the sky lately… or were you too busy to notice?


Ships Passing

Earlier this week I stepped on an empty express elevator in a downtown high-rise occupied by a single large company, and behind me came an employee pushing a mail cart. Even though this is a tall building – and I’m only there about five days each month – our paths have crossed several times. He said hello and offered a smile.

After pushing the button to take us down to the ground floor, I asked, “How long have you worked here?” He answered, “A long time.” I said, “How long?” He looked up at the lighted numbers counting down from 46, paused, turned back to me, grinned, and said, “This week is 30 years.”

The elevator stopped, the door opened and he exited while offering a nod, focused on delivering letters and packages to their recipients. I headed to the parking garage, thinking, “There’s someone who seems at peace.” Then it occurred to me that I didn’t ask the gentleman’s name and know nothing else about him. I didn’t even think to wish him a happy anniversary.

Chalk this up as a missed opportunity… another lesson learned. Next time we ride the elevator together, I’ll be sure to ask him to share a story. I’m guessing his perspective would be quite enlightening about my client.

So, here’s the question for you: Who’s the person in your building who might brighten your day with a story? Perhaps it’s time for a visit.