by Molly Jo Realy (@MollyJoRealy)
“Small favors” is another way of making lemonade out of lemons. It’s also one of the first lines spoken by Mrs. McCready in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when she greets the children who carry almost nothing with them. For me, it’s an expression of finding joy in the little things, like community.
Recently ~ and by recently, I mean just over a week ago ~ I celebrated a birthday. My friends threw me a party. It was a small, socially distanced responsible event, except for the end-of-night photos with my Go-To Team of ladies. More on them later. These ladies, their husbands, and I ate a magnificent potato bar feast, celebrated with cake, played several rounds of Apples to Apples, and just caught up on each other’s lives.
This was the party we had planned for a year ago. A year ago, folks.
I’m not making this up!
The next day, I needed to stop by Tammy’s “for a minute.” That’s TAM-code for “throw caution to the wind, let’s spend the afternoon together talking about writing.” Another great afternoon spent rejuvenating the writing batteries, and the friendships that COVID tried to hide.
Now, I know y’all don’t care about my birthday, or that one Saturday Tam and I spent chewing the fat, or even my third-time-in-my-life experience with an authentic low-country boil dinner. But trust me, these things are important. I promise.
When I got home, I locked the door and went upstairs. I could hear kids on the sidewalk outside the apartment door. Louder than usual. So I snuck back downstairs and listened. They were right there. They didn’t sound malicious, but let’s be real. I’m hearing one challenge the other to knock and run, and I’m not a fan of those kinda games. So, while I try to whip the door open to intimidate them, I of course don’t move that fast, so it just … opened. And a young boy stood frozen, his hand holding precariously to something he’s trying to drop onto the cart I keep outside for plants and packages.
There was something about his face that reminded me of the Narnia quote. Small favors. I knew he wasn’t up to mischief. But I also knew he knew he’d been caught. I asked what he was doing, and this little boy of perhaps eight or nine years old, held out a folded up five-dollar bill. “My friend and I.” He was trying hard to be brave, so I smiled and he calmed. “We’re just going around and leaving money for people we think could use help. And we saw you and we want to help you.”
I wanted to hug him and say, “Well, bless your heart.” In a good way.
We had a wonderful conversation, and then I asked him to call his friend over. (His friend had run off to hide behind some trees.) His friend, about two years older, came over and verified the first boy’s words. What are you doing? Their parents give them more than enough. They want to share their blessings. Do your parents know what you’re doing? “I don’t know. But they always tell us we have so much, and we are so thankful, we just want to bless others.” Where did the money come from? The older boy had it in his piggy bank “and it was doing nothing in there for so long so we want to share it; to let someone else use it.”
I tried to refuse the gift. You would have thought I kicked their dog to the gutter. Both looked so terribly heartbroken. I couldn’t bear to be the person that stopped them from putting the good on top on the world.
So I took the five-dollar bill. And thanked them. I let them know that the day before I had celebrated my birthday, which I hadn’t been able to do last year because of COVID. They nodded in understanding. I told them I would indeed take their gift as a gift, and use it to continue my birthday celebration. They were so excited.
In accepting the gift, I see I was able to give back in an intangible, but greater, way.
These boys will become missionaries in life. Whatever they do, wherever their paths take them. They are already angels. I could have missed blessing them, and being blessed by them ~ not in a monetary way, but with something far, far better ~ had I ignored them or counted them as insignificant.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
~Hebrews 13:2, KJV
Just over 24 hours later, I called one of my Go-To Team ladies. It was the middle of the night and something was terribly wrong. The party was Friday. I’d started to not feel well Saturday evening. Sunday I ran a low-grade fever. My belly felt funny. I’d given up sugars and processed foods a few weeks earlier, so I guessed the birthday party just didn’t agree with me.
And then the pain. After one and half rings, my friend answered. I cried and howled, and she assured me she was on her way. Fifteen minutes later she and her husband found me passed out at the bottom of the stairs.
Long short shortish: Ambulance. CT. Ultrasound. Acute appendicitis. Emergency surgery. HASHTAG: IT WASN’T THE CAKE!
For some reason, as I lay on the stairs Sunday night/Monday morning, unable to move or stand, those boys’ faces flashed in my mind. Their exceptional gift of kindness and generosity. I was prompted to make lemonade with so much. My friend’s ability and willingness to wake up and rush to my side and stay with me for the next 36 hours. My other Go-To Team ladies who brought food, cleaned the apartment, talked on the phone, kept me going through the week-that-is-partly-a-blur.
These are little blessings. Silver linings. Small favors.
Oh. The best part? While I didn’t have the capacity of mind or body to sit and write for any great length of time, I curated ideas. I had dreams (yes, actual sleep-time dreams). I was inspired. And those boys’ names? Well, since they’re minors I can’t let you know. Except I can tell you one of them has the same name as a character in NOLA. And that’s a true story.Do you entertain angels unaware? The newest entry in Molly Jo's Journals: A party, small favors, and a favorite #Narnia quote. #smallfavors #hebrews132 #mollyjosjournals Click To Tweet
Come alive and stay wild,
Author of the romantic location mystery novel, NOLA, Molly Jo Realy is an award-winning writer and author coach. Known as the Bohemian Hurricane, she encourages people to embrace their unique talents to come alive and stay wild every day. Addicted to cats, coffee, and pens in no particular order.
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