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Kindness Challenge -- Four Year And Going!?

I gave a "sermon" at a Church service this morning in San Jose. After Rev. Susan Overland gave a generous introduction, I joked about how David Brunner, the senior minister at the Church, sweetly shared "Nipun Mehta is coming Sunday!" on his Facebook wall -- and one of the comments was "Who's Nipun?" :) I added, "I've really worked hard for that. That I'm actually an everyday hero, and more than who I am, I hope you remember the values I'd try to live by." Then, I spoke about compassion for about 20 minutes.

Compassion is always a big hit, and this time was no exception. Amidst the hugs, a woman came up to me with tears in her eyes. "You know, I came into Church today by chance. I didn't even know you were going to be here, and frankly, I didn't even remember your name. But as you spoke, I got this strange sense of familiarity. Then, you mentioned Smile Cards and I said, 'Oh my God. This IS the guy that changed my life.' You spoke here four years ago, I think. I was going through a rough phase in life, back then, but I took a vow that day. That I'm going to do an act of kindness every day. I've continued it, every single day, for the last four years. It has changed my life. I am an Uber/Lyft driver by day, but kindness is transforming me."

Her tears blessed me. It was deeply moving.

We were surrounded by many people, but it's the kind of situation, where you lock in and forget about everyone else. Still, a woman next to us persisted: "I'd like to make an offering." I explained how everything on the table was a gift (and in fact, made possible by the center itself) and that she should pay it forward. She said, "No no. I'm her partner, and I just want to give you something. Would you please receive it?"

I could feel her gratitude, and opened my palms to receive it. I didn't look deeply enough, but it felt like a twenty dollar bill. And while holding it, I looked at my buddy. "Hey, didn't you say you drive a cab?" "Yes." "Well, next time someone sits in your cab with a tab under 20, and your heart is moved, tell them someone they don't know has paid for their tab. And while they can't pay back, they can always pay it forward and spread the love."

It's an idea that I had already shared in my talk, but somehow this just made it real for everyone in our little huddle. I don't know exactly know what happened but our hearts just cracked open. Love elevated all of us.

I don't know their names, and I doubt they, even now, could spell my name. But really, who wants to be remembered by their names? A shared affinity for generosity and kindness beats a Facebook friendship anyday. :)


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"Service doesn't start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take."

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