Last weekend, my daughter and I went into Stockholm to the vernissage of the talented Maria-Thérèse.
As we got on and off various tubes, we saw buskers playing for money. My daughter opened her purse and gave some of her money to the first man, and then declared, “Let’s do three kind things today, mama!” This was easy as we found many more street artists to give coins to.
We finally emerged blinking into the grey light at Stockholm’s Old Town. And old it is with its alleys and cobbled streets dating back to the Middle Ages.
Suddenly – we saw him. A man kneeling on a coat, head exposed to cold air, hands together in prayer or supplication. He remained there kneeling, as tourists rushed by, totally immobile. A carved statue; a true medieval picture of poverty. His sunken eyes typical of those who cannot see too well.
We put some notes into his hat. I was glad to see that it was full of coins.
But it was a damp, cold day – with a chill that sneaked into your bones and stayed there.
I saw my daughter was almost in tears. “Shall we buy him a sandwich?” I suggested. “Yes, and a big hot coffee too,” she added.
As we returned to offer him our small gifts and exchange a few words, I saw a few people watching my daughter as she handed over the food.
They stopped, paused for thought – and then opened their purses to drop in some generous donations.
It really does seem true that if you carry the flame of kindness, you can help light it in others.
Or, as Beecher once said, “Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.”
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