Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Simply Blessed

It sounded like a cartoon voice. Surely he was making it up.

As the odd sound pierced my cloud of internal thoughts and summoned me back to my physical surroundings, I was sure this person was making this up. No one had a real voice like that. He had to be joking.

But as I came back into full awareness of my surroundings -- a pizza stop in a crowded airport during a layover on my way to Toronto -- I realized that the young man gathering the trash and speaking kindly to people in such an odd voice was actually genuine. As I paid more attention, it quickly became clear that he had some form of mental disability. The cartoon voice and unusually cheerful demeanor belonged to someone who did not live in reality...a simpleton...someone not fully capable of grasping and dealing with the real world.

Our eyes met, and he quickly and happily greeted me in the cartoon voice, "Howdy Ma'am" he said cheerfully. I responded, "Hi there. How are you?", not expecting the response I would get. "Having a good day and just happy to be blessed," he said. "That's what it's all about -- being blessed." I cautiously responded, " Yes, it is."

He walked away, happily completing his job of collecting the trash, smiling at people who brought them their empty paper plates and cups. And I ironic. Me, with an above average IQ....him clearly below; yet he is the one who gave me something profound to think about. Just minutes earlier, I had been lost in some thoughts about my own troubles, a bit grouchy about the flight, the layover, the trip in general. Feeling a lot less than blessed for whatever reason, none of it really legitimate.

And then this person, this trash collector, this simpleton, comes along and reminds me what it's really all about in two sentences flat. His single statement caused me to rethink my entire day and to reconsider what's really important. I no longer dwelled on the petty minutia or the inconvenience at hand. His greeting had changed my entire day, and I am still thinking about it, even now.

It's odd how someone who passes through your life in a day, even in a few moments, can contribute something valuable. A kind word, a cheeful demeanor, even a smile can change someone else's day for the better.

And he, the simpleton....reflected the light of God, even in his simple state. Something for all of us to admire and emulate. A lesson learned, from a simpleton.

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