Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. - Dalai Lama
The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. - Albert Schweitzer
In the middle of the largest M & A (mergers and acquisitions) deal of my career and in the early incubation stages of a Foundation designed to serve the people who serve and lift others, I found myself unable to sleep at 3:30am and began the rigor and discipline of my day.
My day always begins with Quiet Hour, a time of reflection, contemplation, meditation, prayer and planning in preparation for a busy day but this morning, I felt compelled to go somewhere I never go for Quiet Hour.
I tried to change my mind but something kept calling me to go to this place so I finally acquiesced and proceeded to a local 24-hour coffee shop.
It was filled with the usual crowd in the wee hours of the morning, truckers beginning or ending their day, young people laughing, a few people working intently on laptops …. the usual mix.
It also had two “kids” sitting there, two young people in their late teens or early twenties, slightly dirty, disheveled and looking slightly uncomfortable or lost.
My Quiet Hour began as it always does, with my books, my journal and my cup of tea spread out before me and my noise cancelling headphones playing my meditation music du jour.
As my Quiet Hour ended and I changed my music to up-tempo music to energize my day, I noticed that a couple (maybe late 30s or early 40s) were talking to the kids. The man had an acronym on his jacket which I Googled (I’m a data guy) and I discovered that they represented a local outreach program for the homeless and for people who struggle with addictions.
I took one ear bud out of my ear and listened intently to the interaction.
I observed the gentle but persistent methods that the couple used in telling the kids about the options that were available to them, that there was no pressure or obligation and they if they wanted help, it was available to them.
The couple left and sat outside in their vehicle.
The kids discussed this back and forth as they wondered about it and dismissed it simultaneously.
Then they paused, looked at each other, shrugged, stood up in silence and went outside.
They picked up their bikes, proceeded to the couple’s vehicle and shared some words I did not hear with the woman in the passenger seat. The woman wiped her eyes and smiled, the man got out and helped them place their bikes in the back of the vehicle and they drove off together.
Perhaps someone’s Life was changing at that moment.
As I reflected on what I had just witnessed, I looked down upon the paperwork for the sale of one company and the creation of another and I realized that I had been given the gift of emotional fuel – a reminder of why I do what I do.
It reminded me of a colleague on the other side of my then largest M & A deal who said, “Remember, we are doing this for our families and for those we serve and not for the money – that’s why we do what we do.”. His observation changed how I finished the deal and everything I did ever after.
Just then I realized that a line from “Raise a Little Hell” by the Canadian music group Trooper was playing in my ear:
If you don't like what you see, why don't you fight it?
If you know there's something wrong, why don't you right it?
I just witnessed someone righting a wrong.
The Bottom Line
It is easy to get caught up in the trials and tribulations of our Life, whether it’s a large business deal, screaming kids, the fact that our $5 latte and $8 cupcake doesn’t quite meet our expectations (seriously), our belief that our clothing is out of date, our thought that our car is just not new enough, our complaint that the food selection at the supermarket is “not good enough” and the like.
We get caught up in a lot of things in our Lives that others can’t even dream about. As we go about our day often ignoring the blessings and abundance all around us while simultaneously wondering how our Life should somehow be better “just because we demand it”, someone wonders if they will eat tomorrow, where they will sleep, how they will overcome an addiction ….
…. or if anyone cares at all.
The couple I watched today showed these kids that they matter.
I hope the love and compassion felt by these kids “sticks” and that they move on to create something greater in their Lives.
Experts say that sharing love, compassion and support touches specific parts of our brain and imparts important benefits upon us mentally and physically..
They also say that the same benefits are received by those who are on the receiving end of such gifts.
And equally importantly, they say that those who witness such an exchange are benefitted in the same way.
Was I “called” to be at this spot today to witness this or was it just coincidence?
It depends on what you believe.
Someone out there needs to feel love and compassion today, to be lifted when they feel no one cares for their story and their Life.
Are you willing to be that person?
Maybe you’re the person who needs it – don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Putting $10 in a donation box is one thing.
To get up, get out and serve is another – an act that could change your Life and the Life of someone else forever.
I am reminded of this quote by Bob Pierce (the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse) when he described “The Great Compassion”:
Let my heart be broken by that which breaks the heart of God.
What in the world so troubles your heart that you can’t bear for it to continue?
What are you willing to do about it?
The world and someone in it is waiting for you.
What are you waiting for?
In service and servanthood,