The Hidden Acts of Kindness That Take Everyone by Surprise
The goal is not to be thanked — it's to help someone else and praise God, as a complete stranger in Alabama demonstrated recently
St. Mother Teresa reminds us, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”
God’s love is hyperactive, always in motion, and aimed at so many people through our daily acts of love and kindness. These things make more of an impact when they’re done in a quiet way, without seeking notice or reward.
Last week, a heartwarming and hidden act of kindness went viral on social media.
Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Tiffany Dial was standing on a rainy street corner in Birmingham, Alabama, so that she could salute a passing funeral procession. The procession was for Sgt. Wytasha Carter, who recently died in the line of duty.
For 30 minutes, Dial stood at attention for the funeral. At the time, Dial noticed that several pedestrians were taking pictures of her — and she later figured out why.
A man who worked in a nearby building had seen Dial standing in the rain — and taken it upon himself to hold an umbrella over her head while she honored the procession.
Because of the angle of Dial’s hat, she was unable to see the man standing behind her until the photo appeared on social media.
ABOVE AND BEYOND: Shawn Allen didn't say a word when he stepped up in the rain to hold an umbrella for nearly an hour for a sheriff's deputy mourning a fallen member of her department. https://t.co/EyeR3VBBme
— 23 WIFR (@23WIFR) January 25, 2019
After the photo went viral, WBMA News identified the man as Shawn Allen. She was finally able to meet the man and thank him for his kindness.
“I was in my moment,” Dial told WBMA. “It meant a lot, in ways you can’t even put into words. It wasn’t just about keeping the rain off me for that little bit. It meant a lot more than that.”
Shawn Allen noticed a problem and took action immediately — and in a way that would not put the attention on him.
When I first joined the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in 1985, my brother Tom sent me a Jerusalem Bible with some golden tabs in a separate pouch that needed to be inserted to separate the various books. This required a meticulous hand and plenty of patience to carefully insert those tabs into the proper pages — and I never got around to this painful task.
Two years later, on the night before I would leave for Spain to begin a year of classical humanities study, I left the Bible on the small desk outside my room in the hope I would carry it onto the plane and get it done en route.
I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up early the next morning to see that the tabs had all been perfectly placed and sealed inside my Bible. Somebody had done this act of kindness late into night.
It took me five years to figure out that a seminarian from Guatemala, Brother Eric, was responsible for this incredible act of charity without ever wanting recognition.
In New York City, if you’re attentive, you will see random folks gently placing blankets over sleeping homeless people, or leaving sandwiches or cups of coffee next to other person in the corners of alleys or other areas.
One of the most beautiful and powerful acts of kindness any of us can be part of is praying or offering up a sacrifice for someone else. Ask God to help that person through a health issue, a marital struggle, a personal problem of some kind. You will be amazed at how effective God’s power can work in that troubled soul.
Photo shows Good Samaritan shielding sheriff’s deputy from rain with umbrella as she salutes fallen police officer during funeral procession: https://t.co/4vU0Qh5G5o
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) January 25, 2019
God hears that prayer and He will take action.
This should never be about getting credit or recognition.
Rather, this is about giving God the glory and trying our best to not get in God’s way.
Be generous and allow His merciful love to penetrate the wounds of the hurting souls in our society.
The more hidden the good deed, the more impact it may make on the recipients.
Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.