I once drove a van for county transportation in Asheville, North Carolina. I wanted to share something that happened in hopes of putting a smile on your face, and a light in your heart.
I drove every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 10 elderly ladies from their rural homes, into the Baptist church meal site. It was a free meal, and activities for otherwise housebound seniors. One of the riders, Gretchen, had been getting increasingly cranky over a period of months , and had alienated pretty much everyone on the van. I had tapped into her energies one day, and understood that she was in an enormous amount of pain, so as a healer I worked on her conditions every day I drove them.
On Wednesdays, I brought them shopping, as well as to the church. Gretchen had stayed behind one Wednesday at the church, because her meager social security check was spent (as it usually was by mid-month). The other ladies took the opportunity to gossip a mean streak about Gretchen since she was not present the whole way to the shopping trip and back to the church. Now mind you, if you were in the dream, this woman left very little to like about her. She was very much a loner, with little caring family, and always had something negative to say.
Over the several weeks of this story, the ladies had been buying Christmas gifts for their families, and one day while in the store, I noticed Gretchen by herself, admiring this really big teddy bear…talking sweetly to it, and petting it. She looked for a price tag, and upon seeing it, walked away sad down the aisles to get her few necessities. It was only $20, but that was a lot of money to a poor woman living in a run-down trailer. I was glad to see a private moment of her’s that illustrated her goodness.
I drove the ladies back to the church for their lunch, then returned to the stores, and purchased the teddy bear with my last $20. I parked near the church in a vacant lot, and arranged the teddy bear in the seat that Gretchen always sat in alone (it was a bench seat with two spaces). Then I waited for the ladies’ pick up time. Gretchen was always the last to get on every day, so I knew my plan would work. As each lady got on the van I motioned for them to be silent about the bear, and when they asked me about it, I told them to be seated, and that they would know soon enough.
When Gretchen got on the van in her usual dejected and sour self, she saw the bear, and looked up surprised. “What’s going on here?”, she asked. “Well, everyone on the van pitched in Gretchen and bought you this bear as a Christmas gift,” I announced.
She cried silently the whole way home that day, and as each lady passed her on the van at their drop off, I had noticed they placed a hand on her shoulders and squeezed gently. Gretchen was too teared up to say much at her drop off except a hoarse thank you.
After Gretchen had got off the van, the two ladies left (who I knew would be on the phone to the others) asked what was going on? I told them that it was what God would have us do for someone who was obviously in pain on some level – to remind them that they were a part of a community, and that they were loved. Usually vociferously judgemental women towards Gretchen, were absolutely silent going home.
When each got off, I received the squeeze on the shoulder, and the thank you. Gretchen was never the same after that day. A simple gesture of kindness broke down everyone’s walls. Do you have a Gretchen in your life?