The playground during Little League practice is full of parents who want to go home already. One dad made this corner of the world a better place with a little help from his guitar.
There's no way you could've known as you shooed your own passel of boys out the door and down the street, as you grabbed your guitar and wrestled it's bulk onto the stroller which already held a toddler, as you herded your kids around the corner to the local playground, as you set them free and breathed in a deep breath...
There's no way you could've know, when you finally pulled out that guitar and started strumming, that your four-chord sequence would give an overwhelmed mom a glimpse of utopia, a taste-test of bliss.
I turned from where I was watching my son, the one who had tested me to my limits all day, the one who I had to watch like a hawk because with three bigger brothers, he's a little fuzzy on the idea of "gentle", and I glanced at you serenading your own fourth son who was watching you from where he'd wandered a few steps from his stroller. You weren't doing anything fancy. Just picking lazily and then sliding into that chord sequence that you strummed over and over. My son stopped in his tracks and wandered closer to you. He was the cobra and you were the snake charmer. He squatted down in the dirt next to your little boy and just listened, then the two of them stared at each other and smiled, stared at each other and smiled, over and over again.
There were lots of other parents around, most of them, like me, waiting for Little League practice to be over so we could go home and eat dinner and put our kids to bed and just sit in peace for a minute. I had a mini daydream flash through my mind: what if all the parents could be there, not because they had to be, but because they wanted to be? Because there was something there that they didn't want to miss, that was nurturing their soul, that was bringing them to life?
What if all the parents had decided to grab an instrument on their way out the door, like you had? What if we all had sat under the pavilion while our kids climbed up the slides and slid down the ladders, and started jamming together, harmonizing the heck out of those four chords, layering a soundtrack of peace under the squeals of our rambunctious children?
You were brave to break out a guitar right then and there. Maybe you did it for the sake of your own sanity. Maybe you did it because it mellows out your kids. Maybe you did it because you're just one of those people who wants to be sunshine wherever you go. Whatever your reason, I went up and thanked you when you were through.
You couldn't have known that a strumming guitar in a busy playground would quiet my tornado-child enough that his sweetness could venture out. You couldn't have known that those simple chords were the balm that my frazzled soul needed. You couldn't have known any of that when you reached for a guitar instead of a smartphone or book.
When you set your guitar aside and led your toddler over to the slide, I wandered over and told you that you couldn't have known who was going to be at the playground today that really needed to hear that, but that you should know now that I appreciated your willingness to put yourself out there. You should know that your music went far in making this corner of the world, at this space in time, a better place.
In our morning time today, the kids and I watched this short message from a volunteer firefighter who was asked to run into the burning building and save...the homeowner's shoes. It seemed like no big deal - but he found out later what an impact it made. Save The Shoes. Bring The Guitar. Be willing to do small kindnesses, because the ripple effects can be huge.
Have you been on the receiving end of one of these small kindnesses lately? Sharing is caring. Tell me all about it!