Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.
~Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), Love Actually
‘Tis the night before the night before Christmas (or, more succinctly, only 2 sleeps left until Christmas), and I can’t help but draw on one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas movies. Soft spot for Hugh Grant aside, I tear up in the opening minutes every time I watch Love Actually. Even before anything is said, you are transported to the passenger arrival area in Heathrow Airport, watching loved ones reunite. If you haven’t seen this in a while, you probably should revisit it. (Go ahead. I’ll wait).
At this time of year, there’s something about slowing down long enough to witness or observe the goodness in this world. The grace. The kindness. The love.
It’s in the eyes of the people serving meals at the local shelter. Not only on Christmas day, but on December 16th or February 8th, too. And in the eyes of the people enjoying those meals.
It’s in the hand of a parent, walking through a park, holding the hand of his just-learning-to-walk child.
It’s in the bags of groceries that every Woodland Elementary student took home this holiday break, from an anonymous donor.
It’s in the kitchen — bubbling pots, baking pans, simmering sauces, and rising dough — of every family’s ‘chef’ preparing the family dinner.
It’s in the hug of the mom as she catches her child in her arms as he jumps off the bus after school.
It’s in the stranger’s smile and patience holding the door open at the post office, as you walk up, precariously balancing packages.
It’s in the sincere thank you the over-worked service teller offers up with a smile, after helping you and the 5,479 other people before you that day.
It’s in the helping hands, open doors, and thoughtful invitations of friends every day.
Slow down this season. Resist getting caught up in the last-minute rush and retail madness. And instead, step back from yourself for a minute and look around you. I suspect you will see kindness and love, if you open your eyes. And if you don’t? Hold the door open for the next person coming up the sidewalk, or quietly pay for a tank of gas for someone who may not have as much as you do this season.
Maybe you are the love and kindness others will see when they take a minute and look.