Saturday, August 16, 2008
Cold day but warm hearts...
The weather in Dunedin has been cold lately! We have had everything. Rain, hail, snow, wind and endless grey cloudy skies. Saturday was no exception. In the morning there was no rain but with snow on the hills and a breeze it was COLD! We collected for the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust which involved standing in the cold, holding a bucket, trying to eyeball people in the hope that they will put some change in it. I was outside a hardware store, getting colder, and colder and not collecting much money for my efforts. A man came past who I knew. He has helped out on a couple of Habitat for humanity builds a few times. We have nailed weatherboard, barrowed concrete and shared running stories together. I have forgotten his name though. He put money in my bucket and we talked briefly before he went into the shop. A woman who worked in the store came past, saw me standing in the cold, and invited me into the entrance. She dashed away and came back with a table and a chair. It was marginally warmer, but a lot more comfortable. I also appreciated the welcome smile. After about half an hour I noticed my Habitat acquaintance come out with a shopping trolley full of purchases. He stopped next to me as I was busy talking with another person. He dug amongst his purchases and brought out a cup of steaming coffee, put it on my newly acquired table, gave me the thumbs up and left the store. He had bought it for me! It so cheered me up. I had been there freezing, feeling like a homeless beggar because I was indeed begging for money. Some how you do feel a sense of rejection from the cold, sometimes angry stares and the people who carefully avoid you. In the midst of all this, that gesture of kindness warmed me in all sorts of ways that ran far deeper than just the warmth of the coffee.
In time I was relieved by another trust board member and hoped into my car to go to the "Farmers Market" at the railway station where my wife was braving the cold collecting for the night shelter too. I was held up at the railway crossing as a train came through and idly stared at the people on the platform across the tracks. A mum and a little girl were watching the train pass through. The train had blown its horn as it came through the crossing and as it approached mother and daughter, the mum showed the little girl the pulling action of blowing the horn. The little girl, full of delight at the train, raised her little fist, eyeballed the train's cab and pulled away at an imaginary horn. There was nothing but the rumble of the train for a second or two, but suddenly the train's horn gave a series of little toots, and the driver was waving at the little girl. Her delight was infectious, and she and her mum in their winter clothing skipped along the platform. The warmth of the train driver and his response to a little girl, warmed my heart on a cold day.
Simple acts of kindness can make even the winter weather feel better. I must remember that, often I am too full of my own importance to do those little things.