I think we all know -- theoretically -- that small acts of kindness or thoughtfulness can build up into waves of positivity. Or that what seems like a small act to us can seem like a big gesture to another person receiving or even viewing that choice. I got a reminder of this fact last week, which I hope will inspire me to continue choosing to do the small things.
It was Vacation Bible School week. The story for the day was about the feeding of the 5000 and the directions called for me to bring in actual bread to break in front of the children and then pass the basket of pieces around to allow each child to take a piece. The author of the instructions had thought about food allergies and sensitivities, but their proposed solution was that I use a picture of a loaf to break and skip the passing around.
I didn't much like that idea. I asked the overall organizer of VBS for a list of food allergies, but never got it. (She was a little swamped as a stomach bug ran through our volunteers and attendees.) So, the day before the breaking of the bread, I asked each group leader as they left my room if they had any gluten or other food allergies in their group. I had a few no-gluten kids passing through, but no dairy or egg allergies. One group leader (the youngest group -- rising 1st graders) said she would tell the child's parent about the lesson and ask that an alternate snack be sent that day.
That wasn't the only class with a gluten-free child, however. So, when I went to the store to buy the bread to break, I simply picked up a small package of gluten-free sandwich rolls from the freezer case at my grocery store. It was small thing to me. No extra trip. Not a large outlay of money. Just a few extra steps and a few extra dollars. (For good measure, I picked one that was also dairy free and made in a nut-free facility, although I think it did contain eggs.)
The next morning, on the day of the feeding of the 5000, the parent of that 1st grader came rushing into my room before VBS started, asking what we were doing with bread today. She had forgotten the alternate snack. I showed her what I had bought (label still on for her to read) and explained my plan. I could almost see some of the stress leave her face as she assured me that what I had purchased would be OK for her child to eat.
But the really big moment? Wasn't just helping another mom ensure her child had something safe to eat and would not be excluded from the class lesson. (Although that would have been big enough.)
The really big moment came later in the day. I had noticed her child's reaction when I asked the group if anyone needed gluten-free bread and held up an alternate basket -- big eyes and a hand shooting into the air to claim that bread. But I hadn't thought anything much of it until the parent came by to see me towards the end of the day. She said her child had been "so excited" that I'd had an option ready for her.
It was a small thing for me to do. I just picked up one little extra loaf while I was in the store anyway. But, by doing that, I was able to include children who might otherwise have felt left out. Everyone got a piece of bread. And isn't that what the story is really about anyway? We were all fed, and there was bread to spare. For everyone.