Our parish hosts a 'Random Acts of Kindness' (RAK) group. Once a month, we gather together and undertake a project that will benefit the community. We get folks of all ages and affiliations coming out (we're not just Anglicans); and each project is completed in an hour. It's fun, it's free, it's mission!
This month, however, we hit a snag... our project was to hold a lemonade stand. Free lemonade! No cost, no expectation, just yummy sweetness on an evening when the whole town was engaged in a large-scale music festival.
The problem: it was free.
A lot of passers-by didn't believe it was free; and even when we told them there was no cost, they anticipated us to suddenly pop out a donations basket. We live in a society that firmly believes that nothing comes for free.
But... it was free. We weren't accepting donations. We were just handing out lemonade, to make peoples' day a bit better.
|You've been RAK'd!|
Random Acts of Kindness
For those who did stop by, we received a LOT of compliments and thanks. They were grateful, they were kind, and (sadly) they were surprised. But there were many who missed out on the opportunity - because they couldn't fathom 'free'.
What does it say about our society that we view kindness and gifts with suspicion? That we look for the 'catch' when something is given to us, that we would rather divert our eyes when offered something rather than engage in conversation to better understand what it is we're being offered?
I wonder when our society became so suspicious of receiving something, that it is now laden with an expectation of reciprocity; that we have forgotten how to accept without an anticipatory quid pro quo. I wonder how much time and generosity it will take before we (collectively) move from fear and reluctance into acceptance and interaction.
I dream of the day when a culture that is reticent to receive free lemonade will have such open hearts and positive interactions that we can receive the free gift of God's grace.
I pray that day will be soon.
|We even offered drive-thru!|