This past weekend I was driving back to SoCal from Abilene after a short, but fun-filled Thanksgiving with the fam. I had been on the road for about 12 uneventful hours when I decided to take a break at a rest stop in Eastern Arizona.
As I was walking towards the restroom I was greeted by a friendly voice asking, “would you like some free coffee, or a cookie?” I looked over and saw an elderly couple next to a huge ‘free coffee’ sign waving me over to a table they had setup up, filled with all kinds of refreshments. They greeted me with a huge smile and asked what I would like. I spotted a few homemade cookies and asked what they recommended, and they handed me a massive oatmeal raisin cookie. I don’t know who had a bigger grin on their face, them or me.
We chatted for a while and they introduced themselves; “My name is really Charlie Brown, and this is my wife Joan, but if you want to call her Lucy, you can.” I couldn’t help smiling.
I asked them the story behind the free coffee and cookies, and they explained that they liked to come up on holiday weekends when they know there are a lot of travelers and provide refreshments. “Driving can be so tiring” said Mrs. Brown, “We like to see the smiles on peoples’ faces when they get a chance to take a break.”
Mr. Brown Added that a group from their small town about 20 miles south had been doing this for about 15 years. It started asa way to get people to slow down and drive more safely, and became a source of joy as they got to meet so many different people.
I told them I was overwhelmed at their generosity, and was excited to see such kindness on the road. I asked them if they took any donations for their efforts, and they said they started putting out a jar a few years back, because so many people were simply leaving money on their table. Mrs. Brown said they were using the money to build a baseball field in their small town so I quickly reached into my pocket and put in all of the cash (unfortunately only a few dollars) I had into the jar.
As we talked numerous people came and went. Families in expensive RVs, some pretty rough looking bikers, truckers, elderly couples, children, girls with pink mohawks… it was quite the scene. Every person was greeted with a huge grin and walked away smiling. And every person said thank you.
We’ve been going through a series called ‘Generous’ at NVC the past few weeks, and that word has been on my mind a lot. Last night at one of our growth groups I was so excited to share this story with some of our teens and get their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say:
Generosity isn’t just about what you do, it’s about the spirit inside of you that causes you to be a generous person.
Creativity is a huge part of generosity.
Generosity is better when it’s a surprise.
Being generous can be dangerous, but that’s what makes it so exciting.
Generosity comes from letting go of what you value.
Doing big things for others doesn’t make you a generous person. A generous person simply does things for others that can be big.
When you think about the generosity you’ve already received, it’s much easier to be generous to others.
May we all be generous people. Whether its time, money, or our comfort, may we give away what we hold dear so that others may be blessed.
Thanks for the cookies Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Brown.
One love, one heart.