A Little Kindness in a Garbage Can

Sometimes you find expressions of kindness in the strangest places, even in a garbage can, as I did! I was taking my morning walk near our home in Brandon, Florida. It was garbage day so I passed many a garbage can. Some were yard waste containers and were to be picked up by a separate city truck crew. One such yard waste container caught my eye as I walked past. It had a cardboard sign propped on top of the branches with the scrawled words, “Caution…Thorns.”

I stopped and gazed at the can in amazement, then took a picture with my cell phone to capture the act of kindness. The homeowner had taken the time to tear off a flap from a cardboard box, find a marker, and write the warning for the garbage collectors. I wonder how the garbage collectors reacted? I hope they appreciated the gesture, that someone cared enough that they not get stuck by a thorn.

This little kindness expressed in the garbage can got me to thinking about how little kindnesses can, and should, pop up all over the place, and how they’re such an important part of relationships at home, at work, at church, or at play. It seems to me that it’s often easy to do the right thing when it’s a big thing, a huge deal, a real crisis, or a great opportunity. People are watching, or they’ll find out through someone who is. The seriousness of the situation puts us on alert. We’d have to be really clueless to miss the opportunity to do the right thing. On the other hand, it’s the small thing, the seemingly inconsequential situation, the mini opportunity that’s gone in a flash, or that ordinary moment when no one’s paying much attention that tests the kind of person we really are.

Life is made up of just a few watershed moments that are epic in nature but is crammed full of ordinary moments. Many of these ordinary moments are shared with other people – a mate, family members, friends, co-workers, and a host of people we briefly meet in passing. Each such “ordinary” moment is an opportunity to extend a little kindness.

Life is a thorny endeavor. Everyone needs to be shown a little kindness. That’s the reminder I was given by the sign in the garbage can.

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor.” Proverbs 21:21

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