“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
– Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
The temperature dipped below freezing, but a heart was just warming up.
My daughters and I were on our way to martial arts. It was cold, and the fog was heavy. The street lights could barely light the ground. It was difficult to see very far. Our car was quiet. A single phone illuminated the passenger seat as Tessa texted silently with her friend. No one spoke. Apparently, Friday was a welcome relief and the thought of exercise was not quite so welcome.
We approached the traffic light, preparing to turn left. We pulled into the left of the double turn lanes. I looked at the clock. We were late. I grumbled beneath my breath as I realized our line of cars was the longest. We wouldn’t make the next signal.
Ahead, in the middle of the road, silhouetted in shadows, were two figures. One was standing, holding a square sign. Another was sitting.
The light changed. Traffic inched along, turning left. The truck in front of me stopped as the green arrow turned yellow. We didn’t make the light.
The silhouettes were closer now. It was a young man standing with a cardboard sign too dark to read. Beneath him, sitting with hood up, shivering, was a young woman.
I reached for my wallet, then remembered, there were no more fast food cards – what I keep in my wallet to hand out if someone looks hungry. Not wanting to hand out cash, I mumbled that I had nothing to offer. Silence responded.
The light was red. The fog was heavy. The opposing traffic moved along. The silhouettes shivered.
Suddenly, Tessa burst out, “We can give them a hand warmer.”
I had bought hand warmers several months ago - those little chemical packets outdoor enthusiasts use inside their gloves. They had been stashed inside the car and forgotten. I didn’t even think my daughter knew they were there. We rummaged around for a moment and she found a package in the glove box. Giving them to me, I rolled down the window. The man approached. He was just a boy. I gave him the warmers. He thanked me politely.
We watched as he went back to the girl. After he handed them to her, we could see her open the packet, take one, then give him the other. She clenched the warmer and put her hands back down. He held his warmer as he once again raised the sign.
The light changed, we drove forward. I gave him a nod as we passed. He may have nodded back. We turned the corner.
I turned to my daughter. ”You made a difference. They’re warmer on a cold night.”
“Yeah,” she replied.
It takes more than one hand warmer to warm a body and it takes more than one act of generosity to make a life. But last night, for one moment now frozen in time, my daughter’s heart warmed another.
Yesterday’s gift of time … My daughter warmed the hands, and the hearts, of others.