In the late 1950s, being a baby boomer in a safe neighborhood provided for many interesting experiences.
In my neighborhood in Everett, I linked up with a whole bunch of local kids about my age. We banded together — boys and girls — and played all sorts of games we either learned from others, or just plain made up ourselves. One night each week, a local family invited us kids to the one house that had a TV. There we watched Disney together.
Most of us did not get an allowance. Instead, we scoured roadside ditches, back porches, the old wooden baseball park five houses from ours, and vacant lots for empty pop bottles. Standard sizes yielded three cents each — large bottles exchanged for a nickel! We then marched up a nearby street to a mom-and-pop grocery to cash them in, investing all those shiny coins in penny candy.
One day, bottles in hand, four of us marched up the hill. Just short of the summit, we drew close to a giant house. We normally picked up our pace to get by it as quickly as possible. One could sometimes hear screams coming from its open windows. Several adults had told us it was an “old folks’ home” for very strange people.
As we drew nearer to the house, I saw a bed with wheels on it blocking our sidewalk. An ambulance waited at the curb. We discussed crossing the street or seeing who was on the bed. We opted to check out the bed.
A very old man lay on his back, covered to his chin. I had never seen such pale skin. Little red spots covered his face. His eyes remained closed. I bent just a little forward to get a better look when he suddenly opened his eyes and looked straight at me. Then he smiled.
More than 55 years later, I still remember his smile. It moved me then and the memory touches me now. Perhaps that was the last good thing he could do for four little boys. I cannot speak for the other three, but I think I will always remember his one small act of kindness.
The Bible teaches us that even small things matter to God.
One day, Jesus saw people giving offerings in the temple. He noted how rich people freely poured their coins into the box. He was, however, very impressed when a poor widow gave two copper coins for her offering. As Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them” (See Luke 21:1-4). Two thousand years later, we still read about and remember her simple act.
I am sure that our acts of generosity as we worship God still bless him. On the other hand, we may not have so much money or free time as others, but we give what we have to his work and to the needy, and these things please God.
Be they sacrificial offerings or small acts of kindness, these things matter to God. Sometimes the simplest things — like a parting smile — matter the most to us.
Rev. Richard M. Cary is a retired pastor and an active writer who currently serves as an Elder (pastoral care for ministers) with the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God. He lives and writes in Pasco. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.