A little bit of change

I was taking public transit home after spending some time with friends, a good hour’s journey direct from home. To return, I needed to take two buses, and due to a mishap at the first bus stop (the station that actually didn’t exist, and was also two intersections away from where the schedule said it was,) I didn’t have the exact change I would need to get on the second bus.

After confirming that only exact change would get me a ticket, I asked the kind-looking woman sitting opposite me if she had change to exchange for a small bill. She said she didn’t, apologized, and then began to look in every pocket of her bag on the off chance that she did after all.

There was an elderly couple sitting in front of her, who overheard the discussion. The gentleman passed me a handful of small change, and asked if it would help. I explained that I was just trying to get smaller change, and showed him the bill. He and the wonderful woman beside him insisted that I just take the money, as it wasn’t very much, and not to worry that they didn’t have enough change to make an exchange. It made a huge difference to me, and I conveyed my appreciation as much as possible.

***

The trip was meant to just be three friends hanging out together and enjoying the vast nature surrounding us, and it was peaceful, gorgeous, and a chance to get to know everyone a little better and make a stronger connection. And those 24 hours were all that, and more. The friend who was the host is a holy lady, and while we were eating breakfast together on the front porch, she mentions that she was about to do her daily Tanya study. Knowing that I’m usually interested in whatever she’s learning, she offered to read it aloud. Given that, while I was interested in learning Tanya but knew almost nothing, and the ‘cycle’ of lessons is currently near the end, she had to explain a few concepts to me as we learned. One of them was how our world is made up of G-d’s holy light, contracted and ‘scrunched up’ many, many times, and that the world we see is the barest fraction of the true power and glory of the Almighty. (It sounds much better in her words, or in the original Hebrew.)

While we paused to let my brain take all of this in, I was looking around at the trees surrounding the porch, and the clearing that showed so much of the land. I realized that there are billions of trees, and no two are truly identical – and each one is beautiful in some way. After spending some time there, I could appreciate tree differences very well. There are billions of trees in the world, and billions of people, and countless other beautiful and unique beings of all sorts. And this is only a fraction of a fraction of G-d’s power and majesty and creative light? My mind was blown, but in a good way. We finished learning, finished breakfast, and went out to collect mosquito bites (sorry, to see the fields and the butterflies and the garden and the pond,) and this echoed around in the back of my mind. It really changed the way I saw everything.

I’m sorry for rambling – I’m so tired, but I wanted to get this post out before Shabbat. I may edit for clarity soon. Have a wonderful Shabbat, readers!

Listed for Kindness

I asked a classmate if I could put her on my list of people to get notes from when I miss school, since she’s a very bright girl with good writing. Without hesitation, she replied that I could put her on the list for any subject we had together. As I said, she’s a bright girl. She knows how often my health makes me miss school, and how many classes we share, but nevertheless, she immediately offered to do it since it would make my life easier

Food for the soul

Those days when you leave the house for an entire day, and the second you arrive at your destination, you realize that you left some of your food behind.

Thank you to the wonderful friend who gave me some food.

And thank you to G-d, who decided that today, she should have my favorite food- and not want to eat it.

Yes, this is a normal thing for a person to do. But did you ever think about how amazing normal can be sometimes?

Warmth in the wet

A post Mim collected from one of our readers

One time I was at the bus stop after school waiting for the bus to come. It was a rainy, windy day and the stop shelter was filled with people trying to escape the weather. I managed to squeeze in at the opening but the wind was blowing the rain into me, and since I was only wearing a thin jacket it was really cold. The woman behind me had an umbrella and, seeing that I was shivering, held it in front of me to block the rain. Every time I shifted she angled the umbrella differently so it would continue to shield me. When the bus finally came, she held the umbrella over both of us as we left the stop. She didn’t know who I was, but she did one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me and I will never forget it.

Just because

Yesterday, I saw something my brother had been wanting for a long long while on sale, literally across the street from my school. I offered to pick it up for him, and collected the money. I told him I’d get it today if I could, or by Monday if not. Getting sick and spending lunch in the office was not part of the plan. (When is it?) I knew I could to it another day, but I always feel better when the easy to-do’s are crossed off my list right away. I spotted a friend coming into the office to deal with something else, and on impulse, I asked her if she wouldn’t mind picking it up for me.

It was a serious long shot, and I double checked that she didn’t mind when she said yes. But she confirmed my instructions, went out, and came back ten minutes later with the item, with the receipt and change like I’d asked for. So that’s one point for agreeing so well, one point for making it not feel like a big deal, one point for checking my instructions, one point for being fast, and 10 points for getting the job done properly. I was so appreciative, and she really helped make my brother’s day. It’s nice to know people are looking out for you.

A need for thanks

Saying thank you for a favor is easy. Saying thank you when you know you’re admitting to the world that you’re vulnerable and you know you couldn’t have managed without is harder. Nevertheless, I have to thank my vice principal today, for not just helping as she has had to so much recently, but how she helped.

I’ll make a long story short and just say I ended up in the office sick for the second (or maybe even third) time in a short while. The Vice-Principal is the one who usually deals with sick people in our school, and knows a lot about my medical history. In the past, when I end up in her office, I’m so worn out that after waiting it out a while, and a few protests and tears, I agree to be sent home. This time, though, I put up quiet the miserable fight. Someone was counting on me to be there today, and I didn’t want to let them down. These days, being sick has put an even bigger burden on everyone around me than before, and I let all my misery out to her. Another caring person who tried to help made things much worse and she dealt with it discreetly and properly.

The whole thing is a blur in my head, but I remember her thoughtfulness, her humor, her trying to accommodate me and help me stay as best as possible. I vividly recall that even when I was acting like a baby, she still talked to me like I was sane, and when I was ‘with it’ again, she talked to me as much like an adult as a Vice-Principal ever would to a baby-faced student. She made the whole thing less painful.

I didn’t just want her help, I needed it. And therefore, though I might not want to share my painful experience, I need to.

G-d in our lives; Chanukah post 1

One major theme of Chanukah is seeing G-d in life; not just the huge miracles and victories, but nature and the ‘ordinary’ things He arranges with a Hand too subtle for us to see.

Thank You for the seat in the crowded bus so I could get home without tiring myself out. Yes, that’s a big deal.

Constructive Criticism 1

It’s somewhat sad to write about something that you wouldn’t even notice is a good and positive thing if it weren’t that so few people did it. But the fact is, we all notice the bad things anyway. I choose to also highlight the good.

I overheard two girls today talking about a particular teacher and a particular class. But what made them different was that they weren’t griping, exaggerating, blaming, or speaking lashon harah.

Rather, one told her friend that she was having xy and z issue, and that this was why. She added, in a reasonable, calm voice, that she knew she should respect this teacher, and she did, but that nevertheless, this was still an issue, and she had no clue what to do about it. Her concerns, I can attest to personally, were valid, and it was an issue. But the way she handled it showed maturity and respect.

Though poor behavior cannot be denied to exist, I also choose not to highlight it. If you don’t understand why this was music to my ears, kol hakavod for you.

Such a gift

I plan to elaborate on this later, but I can’t go to bed without saying thank you.

I never eat potato chips, but today, in the midst of one of the worst days I’ve had in a while, I suddenly wanted some, and ran down between classes.

G-d made the vending machine give me my chips for nearly free. Believe me, I was a little worried it was theft, and tried to work around it. But the machine insisted! What could I do?

In addition to those special rare souls who showed how much they care today, that warm hug from above helped take the edge off of the pain. I still don’t know what happened, or why, but I know, somehow, that it will be ok.

For even one hour

Even if my tear-drenched, perched on the edge of my bed seeking relief from the pain, tearing my heart out for the umpteenth time today- prayers only gave me this burst of good feeling and health for– I’d say three hours now– it was worth it.

I hope it stays. I not only hope, I pray. I really really want it to. But even a small taste of relief, gone tomorrow, is an answer to my prayers from G-d. Even if He can’t take away the full burden, for reasons only He knows, He lightened the load a little for me.

 

The though I bring to you today is this: In a strategy game I play sometimes, if you make a fatal move you can reverse, undo, and try to choose a better one. You don’t get that in real life, unfortunately (but yet fortunately, more on that later) but the closest most of us will ever get is during these next ten days of teshuvah. We get an opportunity to look back at what we did, restart, and use the new year well. And if we do, it wipes the slate of the past clean.

Wishing all of you that 5776 be a year of growth, healing, blessing and light in all areas of life. See you at the Bais Hamikdash!