The Kindness Of Strangers


Yesterday morning at church, I borrowed a line from a training concept that I provided child welfare professionals several years ago. I made the statement that ultimate disappointment with life is far more damaging than the charred remains of a home destroyed by fire.   Homes can be replaced. Recovery from life’s disappointments is often far more difficult to overcome.


Even if the structure of one’s home was totally destroyed by fire, with heavy equipment the charred remains can be removed and the building site made fresh again. The home could be rebuilt again and in many cases be an improvement over what once stood in its place.


There is a home in Houston that I regularly drive by on my way to the office where that is true. For months the doors and windows were boarded up following an extensive fire. Eventually everything was torn away except the previous concrete slab. The single story structure that previously was nondescript has been replaced with one that is now two-stories and has more grandeur than the previous home located at that site.


Renovating or rebuilding a life that has been subjected to repeated disappointment, unmet needs, criticism and physically or emotionally abusive treatment is not nearly as easily rebuilt. Scars from childhood are not easily undone. The pain and disappointments of the past often color one’s self-image and it is difficult to move beyond the concept of being “damaged goods”.


Saturday evening my niece reached out to me and asked for assistance in making color selections and choosing flooring, tile and other needed items to share with the contractor who is taking on the assignment of rebuilding her home following an extensive kitchen fire several weeks ago. When the General and I arrived at the temporary lodging where she now resides yesterday afternoon, she had three or four books of decorating ideas that she had purchased to serve as a baseline for consideration.


While that served as a good start, I am generally more experiential than that. I suggested immediately that going through model homes and looking at building products and decorative features might also be of great value. In addition, I asked if the fire restoration contractor had provided any suggestions regarding vendors to use in picking out flooring, tile, granite or other selections. She provided the name of the business the contractor had provided.


Under the auspices of “there is no time like the present”, I suggested she check the website and see if they were open. Why not go ahead and look at available selections? So for the next two hours we looked at flooring and backsplash tile. I also noticed a Sherwin Williams store while we were in route to the tile company in far northwest Austin. We stopped by there on the way back to Lakeway to pick out samples of paint.


The time was well spent. At least she now has some idea of what she wants and can share her selections with the contractor this week. I know the process of starting over has to be difficult, but I suggested it could also be rewarding. Why settle for same ole’ same ole’ when you can opt to do it differently?


She then shared her experience with a person she’s never met. She had ordered a blown glass knob replacement that sits on the top of a custom paper towel holder. Following the fire she needed more than the blown glass knob. She needed a complete replacement.


She subsequently emailed the vendor that she needed to order another paper towel holder. She was amazed by the designer/artist’s response. It was thoughtfully and encouragingly well written. In addition the words of encouragement are not something you’d intuitively associate “business as usual” for a mail order business. She received the following kind words of encouragement:


Fire is an odd event. It can destroy, give new growth, and with my art create. For your case New Growth. The main thing is no one was injured. Funny how the supreme energy (God) takes care of us. Taking it day by day is what you have to do.


But pay close attention to this new growth process, I think you’ll find it to be a thing of beauty under all the soot. Whatever negative energy that was being stored is now released into the universe on a different frequency, NOT your frequency any longer.


Your Cerebral neurological pathways (synapses) are now firing on such a great vibration, the universe will answer your needs and wants, just give it time the universal law with answer.


Growing up I was always told by an uncle of mine “The easiest day of your life was yesterday” – He was a Frog Man, US Navy Seal. “Never get caught up in one’s own skeletons, once you start the walk of the hall of the thousand demon’s. Keep you feet moving at the end of the journey, you will then have ultimate enlightenment and will conquer, and create anything” – my words to you.


You have a new canvas, paint how you would like. God gave it to ya!


– Aaron Knapp”


Before yesterday, I had never heard of Aaron Knapp. Now I find that I want to meet him. I actually had never thought of a custom paper towel holder with a blown glass knob on the top. I now may have to have one. It would serve as a reminder of the “kindness of strangers”. Aaron’s words of wisdom resonate with my niece and she’s keeping them in mind as she makes choices on the new canvas she’s been given.


The story she shared related to the “kindness of strangers” is a feel good story. By the way, Aaron’s words of wisdom are true for both resolution of ultimate disappointment with life issues or the charred remains of a home destroyed by fire. God always meets us at the point of need when we have an openness to his help.


All My Best!




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