It is amazing how much small kindnesses can matter. We may never know the effect a smile or kind word has on someone. I'm currently reading Streams of Contentment: Lessons I Learned on My Uncle's Farm by Robert J. Wicks. In that book, he shares this story from a collection by William Bausch:
The pastor of a small church received an envelope marked, "Please give to Harry the usher." The pastor put it in his pocket and didn't think much about it until he came across Harry on Sunday and then remembered to retrieve it for him.
The pastor stayed with the usher while he read the letter. Then, with tears in his eyes, Harry handed the letter to the priest, who read:
I'm sorry I don't know your last name, but then you don't know mine either. I'm Gert, Gert at the ten o'clock Mass every Sunday. I'm writing to ask you a favor. I don't know the priests too well, but somehow feel close to you. I don't know how you got to know my first name, but every Sunday morning you smile and greet me by name, and we exchange a few words: how bad the weather is, how much you like my hat, and how I am late on a particular Sunday. I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to remember an old woman, for the smiles, for your consideration, for your thoughtfulness.
Now for the favor. I am dying, Harry. My husband has been dead for sixteen years, and the kids are scattered. It's very important to me that when they bring me to church for the last time, you be there to say, "Hello, Gert. Good to see you." If you are there, Harry, I will feel assured that your warm hospitality will be duplicated in my new home in heaven.
With love and gratitude,