Damn, I’m crying over a loaf of bread.
My neighbour, a soft-spoken, elegant, and withdrawn Korean woman stopped on her way to work to hand-deliver a loaf of bread she baked for me a few hours earlier.
Warm out of the oven, hand-scored on top in the shape of an ear of wheat, lovingly sprinkled with chia seeds. Imperfectly shaped into a circle, creating a perfect loaf of bread.
Water, wheat, and a sprinkle of seeds.
And I cry.
Big hard sobs roll out of my eyes as I hold the loaf near my heart, taking in its comforting smell, letting its warmth hug my hands.
I’m a huge fan of small acts of kindness. It’s a genuine pleasure in my life to think about the people I love and find ways to surprise them with little attention, thoughtful actions, or straight-up generous self-sacrifice for them. But I rarely do it anymore for people I don’t really know.
I spent an afternoon drinking tea with this lady and her husband once. Just once. You see, her daughter is in my son’s class, and their family lives a few minutes’ drive from us.
And I’m crying because this lady, whom I barely knew, thought of me and my family early this morning as she was baking bread. Amidst the craziness of getting her daughter to school, feeding everyone breakfast, getting ready, and the million other things a mother does in the morning, she paused and thought of us. And added to her busy schedule the time to bake an extra loaf, that she would deliver to us — completely unannounced — on her way to work.
Water, wheat, and a sprinkle of seeds, and so much more too.
Love, kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, humanity. My hands feel warm and loved hugging that loaf and my initial tears are now replaced with a beaming smile. How I wish my daughter was here to witness this moment.
The thing is, my neighbour had no idea that today I woke up feeling very low.
That, this morning, I didn’t have the courage to get out of bed at 4:45 am as usual to work on my book.
That, this morning, I wanted to disappear for a while, feeling the weight of life, with a deep desire to escape it.
And that this past week, I’ve seen my mental health spiral down for no obvious reason other than tiredness and a deep feeling of overwhelm from the work ahead of me.
Her kindness rescued my mood and my day. Reminding me of its power. Gifting me a story to share with my daughter when I drive her to musical theatre class later this afternoon.
How grateful I am to see my mood healed with innocent kindness.
And how inspired I feel to perform more acts of kindness for the people I love and everyone else too.
Water, wheat, and a sprinkle of seeds, and an impact greater than the grandest gesture.