Day 42 “After YOU!”

Here in California we are almost always in a state of spaciousness.  Even when stuck in a miserable traffic jam we still have the boundary of the car surrounding us.  However, when in New York City humanity always seems to be squashed up against each other.  You are always mashed into an elevator or squeezed into a theatre seat or jostled inside a mob attempting to view Van Gogh’s Starry Night.   Something about that world brings out the best in me.  Perhaps it is because I do not live in that mad setting, I find it easier and more enjoyable to extend courtesy as I make my way through the city.   I always make a point of saying “good morning” when I step into the elevator, hold the door open for the individual behind me or make sure I am not stepping ahead of the person starring at the menu in a caffeine deficient daze at Starbucks.  I relish the look of surprise and pleasure when I extend these small gestures and I feel an instant lift in my mood and disposition by offering some small courtesy to a stranger.

What a beautiful word:  courtesy.   Webster’s definition:  “marked by respect for and consideration of others.”  I would suggest that courtesy is at the foundation of Christianity.  When considering the stories of Jesus and his interactions with others don’t you view him as consistently extending respect to those with whom he comes in contact?   When he interacts with untouchables, dines with undesirables, forgives those deemed intolerable, he demonstrates consideration.  Is it not Jesus who encourages us to let others go ahead to a higher place at the banquet table?    Can you not see the miracle of turning water into wine as an effort to avoid embarrassment on behalf of the bridal party?  Does he not avoid discourse that diminishes those who challenge and scorn him?

I find it discouraging how rude and abrupt we are becoming as a culture.  Insensitivity and brusqueness all excused in homage to the god of convenience and expediency.  It would appear to me that common courtesy is the grease that eases the rough edges of civilization.   I suspect we may never know the impact some small act of kindness may have on the stranger but my hope is that when we make the effort to be patient and kind, when we notice someone struggling to get a stroller or walker through a doorway, when we take the time to offer a smile it might not only lighten another’s burden but also create good will.  Maybe courtesy is infectious.  What if one act of courtesy is repaid by another and another until person by person, action by action, moment by moment the world becomes a more gentle, loving and holy place?

Courtesy is the silver lining around the dark clouds of civilization;
it is the best part of refinement
and in many ways, an art of heroic beauty
in the vast gallery of man’s cruelty and baseness.
Bryant H. McGill~
This entry was posted in Church, Friendship, God, Jesus, Love, Peace, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Day 42 “After YOU!”

  1. CHRISTINA says:

    One thing we noticed right away here in Umbria is that if you go to the check out line at the MERCATOR…their Safeway…and they have a ton of groceries and you have a bottle of wine and some pasta only, THEY INSIST YOU GO AHEAD OF THEM!!! They have taught us a COUR-
    ( word for HEART in French ) ESY we implemented immediately and will continue to do so!!!

    The Spello Three!!!

  2. Susan Schmich says:

    Hiya Father Matt!
    Thank you for the timely reminder. My sentiments as well. One of the many great reasons to live in Tennessee: people are still kind to each other. We wave to passing cars while walking along the road or sitting on our porches. We hold the doors for each other. When there is sickness or a death in the family the covered dishes of food come rolling in. Many still say “sir” and “ma’am.” Everybody says “thank you.” And the most important reason to live in Beautiful Tennessee is we love Our Father and go to church!

    Father Matt – it was a great pleasure to meet you at St Alphonsus! Please come back to visit us. Our doors swing on welcome hinges!
    Today’s news is overloaded with pain and suffering, sadness and heartache, terror and evil. Your postings are little unexpected gifts of hope and sunshine for me! I never know when your writings will appear on my iPad or iPhone. I like pleasant surprises!! For a few moments I can view this world through another set of eyes with a different perspective and be reminded of the love and warmth and goodness that surrounds us. I thank you- you are a blessing to many!
    Have a blessed day,
    Susan Schmich

  3. Gus Gocella says:

    I too enjoy those courtesies when given. Just this week I was traveling with my wife to visit the Tenn Elk Herd up near the Kentucky Tenn. border. We had a wonderful trip with lots of hiking enjoying God’s finest forest and mountains. On our way back I had to use I-75 to come home and as I was signaling to make a right turn exit a young fella passed me and exited at the same exit I was exiting. No, I didn’t have ‘road rage’ or even think it. I just waved and continued my exit. However as I was picking up speed the young fella slowed down, realized what he did and waved in an apologetic manner for doing what he had done! Coutesy is contageous and an ‘art of heroic beauty’ as Bryant H. McGill so eloquently stated. There is hope for all mankind but it takes all of us trying to keep courtesy within our space and reach out to others.

  4. June Smith says:

    It happens that I just wrote a PIF – “Pay it Forward” article about a woman in my Rotary Club who had PIF cards made for all of us members. We are to do a kindness, hand the person the card asking them to do the same. Because I’m a writer and a Piffer, of course I’d like to share the story link! Here goes:
    http://www.examiner.com/article/scotts-valley-rotary-club-piffers-pay-it-forward

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