Some lessons are learned from observing others.
My mom taught all of us in our family of nine children just by letting us see the things she did.
Her life was one act of compassion after another.
We noticed and soaked it all in.
Mom practically turned our home into a boarding house because someone needed a roof over her head.
Most of the overnight visitors were pregnant girls, thrown out of their home by a family that couldn't bear the shame of a daughter who was expecting out of wedlock. That was a pretty typical reaction for families back in the 1960s.
Mom made them feel warm, welcome, and safe.
The real miracle of the sleepover guests was convincing my dad to go along with the idea.
Dad was set in his ways and turning our house into the Motel 6 upset his routine.
But Dad loved Mom and her desire to do good melted his heart.
In Mom's presence you felt an aura of kindness.
Which brings me to the story at hand.
It's been so cold lately that my memory pushed up to the surface recollections of one horribly cold night.
Dark and freezing, about 7 PM.
I was in the sixth grade.
At the door, three kids, African-American, ages about ten, nine, and seven.
They were selling magazines.
Standing in the doorway of our stately rambling house on Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights.
Someone left them out in the winter chill for hours.
These kids were frozen and miserable.
Mom was moved.
She took them inside and made them hot cocoa.
They each had 2 cups but that's understandable because mom's hot cocoa was amazing. I've never tasted anything like it since.
After about a half hour mom was able to get some details about where they lived.
It was somewhere in a very poor neighborhood around E. 45th St. and Lexington.
She packed them into her car to drive them home.
I went along for the ride.
One of the kids talked about a brother who had been killed in an accident.
My heart broke and I was only 11 years old.
When we reached the destination, Mom walked them to the front door.
She gave a wad of cash to the mother that greeted them.
It was a quiet ride home.
I was pondering.
Even at that young age, I wondered.
What's our obligation?
What's our role in a world filled with poor and hungry?
Mom had it right.
Do what you can when you can.
And if need shows up on your doorstep, God is sending you a message.
Don't close the door.
By the way, when we got home that night I found a magazine order form. Mom ordered 15 magazines that would be delivered for the next five years.
Who knew mom liked fishing magazines.
She's gone now.
But the lessons live on.
I bet somebody in your life is teaching you lessons right now.
Observe, learn, and love.