I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers.

My freshman year of high school, I took a drama class. We did things in that class that have stuck with me more than I would have guessed at the time. We read The Cherry Orchard and studied the crap out of it, so much so that I could probably still tell you exactly which line constitutes the climax of the play. We had to memorize a poem or a monologue and perform it. I performed “Jabberwocky,” acting out the scenes of the poem. (When I studied “Jabberwocky” with my students this year, I told them that story, but I flatly refused to act it out in any way, shape, or form. They had fun asking me to, though.) We studied and acted out scenes from Death of a Salesman. I still remember standing on the stage of the auditorium, reciting those lines. And we read A Streetcar Named Desire, giving me my introduction to Blanche DuBois. Looking back, I realize now what a challenging sort of class that must have been to teach, full of football players and goths and nerds and everything in between. But that teacher made a lot of really great literature come alive. Plus, thanks to that class, I always get the crossword puzzle right when the answer is “Willy Loman”.

The world is a scary place, and it seems frightening to have to depend on strangers. It is hard enough to depend on the people that we know. Yesterday all sorts of people, friends and strangers alike, were incredibly generous and thoughtful and kind to me. It was a good reminder that, even when we feel like we are going at it alone, there are people in the world who care. Human beings are flawed, selfish creatures who, when given the chance, often rise to the occasion and do amazing, selfless things.

“If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.” -Frederick Buechner

That’s good advice for loving your neighbor just about anywhere: the grocery store, work and school, on the road, in our houses and backyards. It is humbling and gratifying to have strangers teach you what it means to really see other people. I am lucky they took the time to see me.

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    I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers. – Through a Glass, Darkly

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