I was headed home one night last week. It was cold, it was dark - it is February in New England after all. I had to stop at CVS to pick up some band-aids. I won't go into why I needed the band-aids because that's another story. I had thought about stopping at lunch but something told me to go after work instead. The temperatures were headed towards freezing that night.
There was an older woman standing in front of the store asking people going in if they had any food or money. She was clearly homeless. She was clearly hungry and a little desperate. The local shelter was full she said and I believed her. We were exactly the same height. We looked deeply into each others eyes. I did not feel uncomfortable, I didn't judge her. I only felt compassion. I knew I was meant to be there. Meant to help her. I knew something that the others who had passed her by had forgotten - that we are the same being in different disguises, with different experiences but all of one consciousness. Perhaps this exchange was the repayment of some long forgotten karmic debt from some previous incarnation. Who knows. It doesn't really matter. Someone needed help, so I helped.
I told her that I didn't have any food or cash but that I would be happy to buy her some food inside the store. She followed me in and picked out two cans of sardines, a coke and a bag or Oreos. I grabbed my band-aids and we headed to the cashier in silence. She told me again that the shelter was full and that she needed to get to another shelter but that she needed to take the bus and then a train. She needed seven dollars. I said, "o.k." and took out ten dollars in cash to give her. I believed her and I knew that it was going to get cold that night and she needed to find someplace warm. It wasn't much really, but I felt good about helping someone in need and about living my yoga on and off the mat. I did my best. I did what I could.
The next morning I noticed that one of my friends had posted something on Facebook about random acts of kindness and that the first ten people who replied would be on a list to receive some undetermined and unexpected goodness at some point this year. She was doing it "just because." I love that. I signed up immediately of course.
So, perhaps we can all earn some extra karma this year by practicing giving and receiving, by living with an open heart and by displaying random acts of kindness whenever possible. I didn't know this that night at the CVS and I don't know if my Facebook friend knew this, but February 10-16 is Random Acts of Kindness week. So, take a chance, pay it forward, make someone's day.