“Ripple Effect”

“Ripple Effect”

Positively Main Street

Driving up Main Street through Williamsville this afternoon, I passed a well-dressed man who was standing on a sidewalk in the heart of the village with a big sign. FREE HUGS, it said. And on the chain link fence behind him were a bunch of white posterboards with what looked like affirmations: You are special, You are loved. Et cetera.

I didn’t stop for a hug. Passed him on the way back from my appointment as well, and at the moment there were no takers.

But the sight of this guy was, in the language of the evangelical church, convicting. Here I was, thinking dark thoughts about traffic and road construction, and here he was, making an absolute positive out of nothing but posterboard and markers and enthusiasm. Just seeing him made me realize, made me remember, that I have a choice for how I situate myself in the world.

Free Hugs Man made his choice for today. And I kind of caught the fever: After seeing him, I found myself thinking charitable thoughts about my fellow drivers, about people walking by, about the road construction crews working in the sun.

And what this taught me is that it’s not about the specific good we can do in the world, or at least not entirely about that. Rather, the way we live our lives day after day has downstream implications. Every pebble ripples in the pond. Each of us can do good things, sure; but more than that, the web of human existence trembles a little bit in response. Righteous or sinful, we don’t act in a vacuum. Our actions and our overall stance toward life move the world a tiny bit toward something. Something holy or something less so.

Free Hugs Man brought the Kingdom of God a little closer today. Would that any of us could say the same.

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