I went to a reading on Sunday at Elliot Bay Books in Seattle (great independent bookstore) for a book called 1000 Mitzvahs. Linda Cohen began writing by blogging about her daily random acts of kindness â€“ Mitzvahs â€“ a mission she set about completing as a way of overcoming her grief after the death of her father.
I thought it was a really cool way to deal with grief, one I hadn’t heard before, but that makes sense. There is no better way of getting through grief than helping others. Grief is such a selfish process, so to become selfless can seem like a huge stretch, but once achieved gives back in so many ways.
During the reading, Linda Cohen asked the audience to pair up and tell our partners about the last act of kindness we had performed. The woman beside me said she had made daily random acts of kindness her mission long ago. She told me that just that day she had given a homeless man a dollar and helped an old woman carry groceries two blocks to her home. She did it, she said because it made her feel good.
I thought I would be hard-pressed to come up with random acts of my own, but the day before I participated in a six hour strategic meeting for The Healing Center, the bereavement center whose board of directors I am a part of. And that morning while walking Millie, a woman, surrounded by suitcases and talking loudly to herself asked me for money. I only had doggie bags I explained. Then she asked for the time and if she could pat Millie. I was in a rush, but engaged her. And smiled. I acknowledged her and elicited smiles and waves back even though I wasn’t able to provide her with what she needed.
Because what she needed, really was to feel like she belonged. Isn’t that what mitzvahs are really about? Perhaps that too is the power of widowhood â€“ a community to which we all, for better or worse, belong.
I challenge you today (and every day) to do just 1 Mitzvah and notice how it makes you feel and then share it in your comments.