Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Kindness of a Stranger

Over the past week, a story of extraordinary kindness has been circulating. Mark Dickinson was trying to catch a flight from Los Angeles to Denver in order to see his dying grandson. The boy, Caden Rogers, would eventually die from severe injuries he received when his mother's boyfriend violently threw him across the room. But Dickinson desperately wanted to get to the hospital before the boy would be taken off life support. To do so, he needed the compassion of airport workers and the kindness of a Southwest Airlines pilot.

While he was frantically making his way through the airport, his wife, Nancy, called ahead to explain the situation to airline employees. To his amazement, when he finally made it to the gate twelve minutes late, both the ticketing agent and pilot were waiting. They said, "Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we're so sorry about the loss of your grandson." As Dickinson walked alongside the pilot to board the plane, he told him, "I can't thank you enough for this." The pilot responded, "They can't go anywhere without me and I wasn't going anywhere without you."

Here is the story in his own words:

In a world in which there is a great deal of evil, there is also a great deal of good. You just have to look for it. Not only was it refreshing to see someone use their position of authority for good, it was also terrific to see gratitude on behalf of the recipient of this act of kindness. Although there are times when a situation appears to be nothing but bad, everyday people can go out of their way to engage in goodness and provide solace for complete strangers.

After hearing about this heartwarming story, I thought of Micah 6:8 - where we are told that all God truly wants from us is "to act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God" - and how the pilot fulfilled each of the three criteria mentioned in the verse:

1) He acted justly by holding the plane.

2) He showed a love for kindness by helping a grieving grandparent.

3) He remained humble before God by not making a big deal about it.

In any given situation, a person can achieve this trifecta. An anonymous pilot made the best of his opportunity. May we, too, be worthy of doing the right thing at the right time in the right way.

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