More on "The little essay that could"
Published: February 6, 2009
|In our March 2009 issue, freelance writer Kayleen Reusser discussed how her timeless and inspirational essay, "A lesson in forgiveness," caught the attention of magazine, newspaper and book editors, resulting in its publication more than 30 times. Read her essay below:|
A lesson in forgiveness
by Kayleen Reusser
It was snowing as I finished unbuckling my baby from her car seat. A toot from behind reminded me that I was holding up traffic on the one-way street.
I didn't care. My six-month-old had to get an immunization shot, which meant she would be up all night with a fever. My head ached like I was coming down with the flu and my husband's job didn't look steady for the holidays. I wasn't in a good mood.
The truck tooted its horn again. When I finally had my little one in my arms and covered from the cold air, I looked up and felt my heart sink. I had inadvertently parked in a delivery zone. A look at the name printed on the truck confirmed that I was parked in its delivery zone.
Angry at myself for not noticing the sign sooner, I put my baby back into the car and looked down the street. The nearest empty place was more than a block away. Gritting my teeth, I was tempted to go home and reschedule my baby's vaccination for a day when things were going better, but I didn't.
After managing to parallel park in a tight spot, I again got ready to get out of my car. Glancing up, I saw someone waiting for me outside. I knew it was the truck driver. Bracing myself for a verbal attack, I slowly emerged from the car.
"Sorry about that back there." A strong note of apology rang in the man's voice. I looked at him suspiciously. He was actually grinning at me!
"I saw you had a baby," he continued, "but there wasn't any other place big enough for me to park in."
I managed to stammer my own apology, though I was completely taken aback by his friendly manner. Like Scrooge, I wondered if this was a setup.
"I'd like to give you this." The stranger held out a coffee mug with his company's name on the side. He didn't wait for my reply, but shouted "Merry Christmas" and sprinted away, as fast as he dared on the slick pavement.
I stared after him, the coffee mug still in my hand. As the snow continued to fall steadily around me, a warm feeling spread throughout my body and I smiled for the first time all day.
At home that coffee mug serves as a constant reminder to me of the way that driver showed unexpected kindness and forgiveness to me that day. As I drink from it each day, it also reminds me of the way God forgives each of us when we least deserve it.
Using the coffee mug each morning as I begin my day inspires me to work on showing that same kindness and forgiveness to everyone I will meet—clerks, cashiers, complete strangers—not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.
Check out Kayleen's Web site.
--Posted Feb. 6, 2009