You’ve got mail. Once upon a time not so very long ago those three little words used to rank up there with I love you as the most important words in the English language. Perhaps when AOL was king, there was a decree issued in such a such a year, which crowned them synonomous. Before the kings and candidates were abusing inboxes of all sorts and sizes.
I can still imagine that voice when I think about those three little words. I still like think of the movie when I hear them; I still own the soundtrack. But I used to get as excited as I did in junior high when I’d get off the school bus and the red flag would wave me down to see if I had a letter from my Japanese pen pal: Kieko.
Now I hardly ever check the mailbox. I rarely listen to phone messages on the answering machine. And recently, after receiving *urgent* emails about my 72nd friend who was stuck in jail in Thailand and needed me to wire him/her money… well, let’s just say those three words don’t do much for me these days.
I didn’t hear the words yesterday when I woke up my computer (mostly cuz inboxes don’t talk that way anymore but also because I hadn’t had enough coffee to open my eyes all the way) …but I did get the message somebody was just calling to say I love you. Or me, to be technically correct since I. Had. Mail.
So I got this random email. From a stranger I met in Amsterdam on my way to Jerusalem. Over two sets of eyes meeting and one pair seeing a question mark in the 2nd pair. A quest for internet connectivity (hooking up to wifi to get on Facebook) and one who had been there and done that but still had her eyes open to see question marks and people.
It was a random act of kindness kind of email and I was the lucky one to find this message in my inbox:
Hi Joules, Am hoping you are doing great. I met you at Amsterdam around February 19 – If I remember you were connecting to Israel? Anyway you helped me logging on to the internet. I was flying to Kenya – home. So how was your trip? I have had a chance to browse over your website from your business card – and you are incredible lady. God made you for a reason and is always with you – keep on being positive, life is all what we make of it. If possible we can talk and keep in touch. Good day, Grace
How could I not have a good day after that?
I couldn’t forget meeting Grace in Amsterdam. I had forgotten exactly how we got talking, but now I remember the patchy wifi, navigating through the fog of jet lag to connect on the airport interwebs, then looking up and seeing Grace smiling at me. We had a lovely chat, exchanged contact info, then as quickly as she had graced my day, Grace got on board a flight to Africa.
And yesterday, I… got… mail! I’ve been thinking about it, and about Grace, ever since. Grace really made my day. The thing about grace is that it’s a gift, usually a surprise. A seemingly random, happy surprise. It was such a gift connecting with Grace in Amsterdam and sharing a few precious moments of the kindness of strangers with one another. What I don’t mean to do by sharing this story, is to come off sounding like a clanging cymbal tooting my own horn about a small act of kindness I got to do. That is not the purpose. Grace is the hero in my story. But this isn’t the kind of story where you read those two little words at the end of a book and then shut it.
I guess I could close the email I got from grace and not reply. But that would make a boring story. Instead I am left with three of my favorite words: Pay it forward.
There is a sign over the door of my church that says: Small things done with great love will change the world. I think it’s based on a quote from Mother Theresa. She knew a thing or two bazillion about grace. One thing I know about grace is that I need to R.S.V.P.