A couple of days ago, I was walking a loop around the fountains and as I came around a bend, I noticed a little girl. She couldn't have been older than three. I watched as she headed right over to the fountain wall and climbed up onto the ledge. I stood very still, closely watching the girl while trying to look around for an adult. Finally I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye to my right. A woman was in a car struggling to wrangle a younger sibling free from a car seat while holding onto a large McDonald's bag. She popped her head out and said "She's mine!" but then Grandma noticed where the little girl was sitting. She started calling the little girl's name, but the child didn't budge. Instead, she reached her hand out towards the water. This is where I stepped forward. I bent down to the child's level and said hello. Then I reached my hand out and said "would you like to come with me?"
Now I realize, in retrospect, that this sounded like I was trying to steal a toddler and if she had been more aware of stranger danger this could have gone really poorly. Luckily the child did not fear strangers. She smiled and nodded a "yes" and then jumped down from the ledge and grabbed my hand. She held my hand as I walked her over to her grandma and since grandma had her hands full, I asked the girl to grab a hold of grandma's t-shirt. The grandma thanked me profusely. She explained that they were waiting for the mother to get out of her class and that the two little ones just always seem to get away from her. I nodded in understanding and then said my goodbyes. We both went on our way. Later in the day I remembered Michael's story about being the fifth car.
An elderly teacher he works with was getting out of her car to go into her doctor's office one day when she fell. She could not get up. Meanwhile, cars kept pulling into the parking lot. One after one, the cars would move around her, find a parking space and the person would get and go on about their business. Finally, the fifth car stopped. An elderly gentleman got out of the car and helped the woman up. He then walked her into her doctor's office. She uses this story now to teach kindness and compassion to her students. The lesson is not to be the first four cars, but be the fifth car. Be the person who stops and helps. For some of us, we do not need to be reminded to be the fifth car. These simple acts of kindness and compassion just come naturally. I am grateful to know so many of these kinds of people. I hear your stories and I think I am either very lucky or very smart to have surrounded myself with such good people. I am grateful I could be the person to stop and help that grandma wrangle her grandchildren just as I am grateful for that person who stood holding the door open for me when they didn't have to.
I am thankful for the beautiful eggs from the chickens the week. I am thankful for leisurely bike rides home at the end of a long day. I am thankful for the time spent on my yoga mat. I am thankful for the fifth car and as always, I am thankful for you. Have a wonderful weekend and a truly Thankful Friday!