Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Unexpected Appreciation

A contented goat being given a ride

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K. Chesterton

I have a necklace which I enjoy wearing. It is quite simple consisting of a silver chain and oval mother of pearl surrounded by delicate metal work. When people comment on it I love telling the story of how I was given it. 

We were living in Germany at the time and a package came unexpectedly in the post from the West Coast of Ireland. There was no name or return address, but there was a short note inside it and a small ‘dough angel’ long gone now. The writer expressed her thanks to me for being her daughter’s guardian angel. Puzzled I continued reading and the whole event came flooding back. Several months ago I had been dropping some friends off at Frankfurt Hahn airport. I waved them off and then noticed a young girl speaking English and very distressed. She had arrived at the wrong airport in Germany. Frankfurt Hahn airport was 60 kms from the main Frankfurt airport. She was expecting to be met by her friend and had no money for the connecting bus and spoke no German. It was in my direction anyway so I took her to the right airport, hoping that if my sons were ever in need someone else would do the same for them.

We couldn’t find her friend so I said I’d loan her the money to catch a train to the village where he lived. In doing so I gave her my details and address. Just as we headed to the train station she saw her friend and all was right with the world, a happy ending.  I was very glad that it all worked out and wished them both well.

I forgot about it until the parcel arrived. The girl had arrived back home and told her mother the story! It was such a wonderful surprise to receive the gift. I had no way of thanking the mother in return.

It reminds me of an idea called ‘random acts of kindness.’ Maybe that is what gratitude is. Not simply being thankful but passing it on to strangers as well as family and friends. 

Today I treasure that unexpected thank-you gift. It still gives me pleasure and other people when I tell them the story. And the photo? It was such a surpise to see the goat that it gave me, and gives me still, a small dollop of unexpected joy when I look at it!

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