I was in a bit of a low mood at the weekend so when Monday came round, I was determined to make it a good week. A good Monday for me is one where I rise early and I did. Battling against thoughts to hit the snooze button, I crawled out of bed and somehow made it out the door. Now that I was out, I was hopeful of a day full of productivity. However, what is the point of getting up early to get stuff done, if you then miss your train that would have got you to the place where you could get stuff done. My train was at the platform and I was not there. Running to get past the gates, and still in a sensitive mood from the weekend, I was already contemplating how annoyed and upset I would be if I was to miss the train. As the train doors were about to close, a man held the doors open for me. I managed to run in and the doors promptly closed behind me. It was no big deal one might say to hold the door open (although this may be at the dismay of the other passengers on the train), but I was really grateful for his effort. Not only did he help me catch my train, but he also stopped me from having what really would have felt like a bad start to the day.
Another time, I had needed to get home and was struggling to catch a bus that was about to leave. A kind stranger stopped the bus, proceeded to get on, stalled at the door, then once I ran and reached the stop, got off and waited back at the bus stop for their own bus. They had no reason to go out of their way and do that, but they did simply due to their generosity of spirit.
In the Islamic tradition, it is said that when a person dies and is lying in their grave, a beautiful form will appear to them. This form will reflect all the happiness that was felt by others through one’s good work.
Small efforts like this feel like nothing, but to the person on the other end, it might make all the difference. One upside of taking public transport is witnessing all the sweet things that happen between people. A while back, I remember seeing a man in a high vis jacket resting against a pole and falling in and out of sleep after what looked like a really hard and tasking day. A man in front of him, gently touched his shoulder and told him to take his seat, which he did. Within seconds, the man in the high vis jacket was fast asleep. At a time when it was needed most, a stranger provided another with some relief, ease and comfort.
There is a hadith that putting in effort (however small) to help another is a form of charity: ‘Charity is owed on every limb that people have. Every day on which the sun rises in which someone establishes justice between two people is charity. To help a man with his animal and help him onto it is charity. Or to lift his goods onto it is charity. A good word is charity. Every step you take to the prayer is charity. Removing an obstacle from the road is charity’.
There are so many opportunities to ease another’s load, and often with little effort required. That little effort you make however, might just be the relief needed for the person you help- it might spark some joy or a smile, it might remind them of the kindness that still exists, or it might just very well turn a bad day into a good one.