Miracles happen. They’re not that uncommon, but we have to look for them. We have to be open to the possibility that they exist.
Take something as seemingly insignificant as a simple act of kindness. We might brush off random acts of kindness such as another car letting us merge more easily on the free way, but small acts of kindness can add up. They can build on one another and turn literally into miracles.
8 years ago, a man by the name of Philip Schmucker related an amazing story of the miraculous power of a simple act of kindness. Philip had grown up on the northern fringes of Metro Detroit. At birth he had been injured and had developed severe cerebral palsy. In those days (1940’s) medical care was not what it is today.
As a young child Philip was sent to live in a rehabilitation institute with other children with similar diseases. Separated from his parents, he vividly remembered the day when he was told that he couldn’t come home until he learned to walk. Can you imagine the fear, the trauma of being pulled from your comfortable surroundings after being told such a thing.
But Philip did learn to walk. Yet, the rest of his life was a series of uphill battles as he tried to fit into a society that rejected people who were different. Disappointment and despair lead to much anger and a failed marriage. Eventually it lead to alcoholism and feelings of extreme unworthiness.
Rejection had been the story of Philip’s life. But a simple act of kindness helped Philip find hope. One day Philip, who was feeling particularly down and unwelcomed-walked into a church called the Church of Today in Warren, Michigan. Now as Philip told it to me- he’d been to many places of worship and the first impressions hadn’t always been that great.
However on that day as he walked into the building, a perfect stranger approached him. He asked Philip his name and then gave him a hug and said, “Philip we’ve been waiting for you. I’m glad you showed up today.” Although the man wouldn’t know it, that simple act of kindness changed Philip’s life.
Suddenly, Philip had found a place where he felt welcome. For the first time in his life, he felt loved. It was such a little thing- a hug and some simple words. But because of that event Philip would gain the confidence he would need to dramatically improve his life.
Philip would go on to write his autobiography, assist with the television production at the church, and even gain the confidence to become a public speaker. Philips story later was told on PBS in Detroit.
All of this was possible because one man offered a simple act kindness. It was only a simple word and gesture, but ultimately it proved to be the catalyst that dramatically impacted Philip’s life.
Life doesn’t always have to be complex. We don’t have to change everything. All we have to do is to offer hope, a kind word, or just a smile.
If we do we never know when our tiny gestures will end up being a miracle of kindness.
December 3rd, 2007