While singing Christmas Carols this weekend at a nursing home with several families from my church community, I noticed an elderly lady in the front row staring at me with a huge smile on her face. This doesn’t seem unusual. After all we were there hoping to bring smiles to many faces with our performance. Only I caught her smiling my way when I wasn’t singing.
There were about ten families with us this day including grandparents and young children. One of the youngest in our group spontaneously moved to the front of the crowd and started to dance as we sang one of the more upbeat songs. As he was dancing I found myself engaged in this moment with him, completely lost to anything else happening around me. So much so that I stopped singing. I could feel a warmth surround me and my eyes well up with joyful tears, awkwardly overcome by emotion. I was moved wholly by the beautiful goodness of a child, freely giving of himself without hesitation, in order to provide happiness to others. Something we as adults have often taught ourselves to hold back. I watched him closely, observing how comfortable he appeared and how he brought laughter from the onlookers and I allowed my own heart to waken to the spirit of the season. As I returned to my singing, slightly embarrassed by my vulnerability, I became aware of the lady watching me and smiling widely. She had witnessed my brief departure from performing and kindly nodded with a welcomed acceptance, as if to say “Yes child, give! Give of yourself with your whole heart and soul! Don’t hold back. Dance in the front of the crowd!”.
I know there is much to be learned from the innocence of the young. Their unconditional approach to loving others is extremely desirable. And I also know there is much to be learned from the wisdom of the aged. Their experiences throughout life can guide us with meaningful direction. In one small unexpected moment, on this particular day in early December, I was blessed with receiving both a lesson from the young and an approval from the aged. It truly doesn’t get much better than that!
As is often the case in participating in acts of charity, much is gained by the “giver” as well as the “receiver”. This experience was no exception. It was appropriate that we started off the Advent season with this kind gesture. I am grateful for the opportunity to have brightened the afternoon for those living in this home and equally appreciative for the memory I will always carry with me. And I am hoping that next time I will join in on the dance.