I was not a happy member of the human race.
It was minus-something. School was cancelled. Our 18-year-old truck wouldn’t start…again. And I was late to meet a friend for a rare breakfast together. While waiting for the car with the giant crack across the windshield to defrost, I shoveled. Driving was miserable. No turn signals, no common sense, no sense of lanes.
My friend was later than I was. As I waited, the restaurant television caught my eye. I couldn’t hear the journalist, but reading the crawl at the bottom of the screen was enough – another terrorist attack. Around me, people griped about the weather, which seemed especially miserable with muted death on CNN. I sighed.
My friend showed up as if was June – all sunshine and smiles. She ordered strawberry pancakes with extra whipped cream. The waitress, who had looked just as disenchanted as I had, broke into a grin.
“That’s a switch. This time of year, everyone is on a diet.”
Inspired, I ordered ridiculous pancakes, too. By the second cup of coffee, I was actually in a good mood.
After breakfast, I had groceries to buy and a letter to mail. Since I was closest to Horrocks, I started with the groceries. A postal truck was in front of the entrance. I knew there wasn’t a mailbox there, but maybe the mail person would take it.
The windows were frosted. A hand appeared which waved me around the truck.
“Got a letter?”
Yes, would you mind—?
“Not at all.”
Now I had one errand and an extra-helping of goodwill towards men. I was more patient in line, in the parking lot, in the car.
It doesn’t take much to lose a little faith in humanity. Conversely, it doesn’t take much to restore it, either.
It doesn’t have to be an act of kindness, like that mail lady taking my letter. It can just be a detail, like the whipped cream on my friend’s pancakes.
Recently, I saw this older couple in church. They sat near the front, the husband clearly in good health, the wife clearly in decline. He was protective, opening his wife’s hymnal, whispering soft directions, guiding her down the aisle, his hand at her waist.
It was the hand at her waist that got me, the detail that testified to decades of love and trust. It was more than romantic; it restored a handful of faith in an institution besieged by divorce rates, legal battles and bad press.
They say God is in the details, which might be why details are so powerful. Noticing them, however, can be tough.
I want to do better and I’m inviting you to come along.
If you see something, read something, or photograph something that makes you glad to belong to the human race, send it to me. There is an email address at the end of this column or, if you prefer, I have a Facebook page and Twitter account.
Every Friday, I will post our collection on my website and Facebook/Twitter. Might even break out a hashtag, like #RestoringFaith. No doubt, someone has thought of this, hashtag and all, but that’s a good thing.
It might not seem like much in the Big Picture, but this isn’t about the Big Picture. It’s about details.
Nicole L.V. Mullis can be reached at email@example.com.
This was also published in the Battle Creek Enquirer on Sunday, January 18, 2015