Love Your Neighbor Part 2
For the past four summers, I’ve spent the majority of my time in Walt Disney World. As a Texas resident, it might sound strange that I am an annual passholder. I am a teacher during the year, and I am going full speed every day, taking care of every little thing for every single student who has a need. In a nutshell, by May, I’m exhausted. I enjoy my summers in Disney World because I get to be pampered, taken care of, and I can unplug. For some, summers in Florida with tons of crowds may sound exhausting all in itself, but I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, that I find peace in it. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become a people-watcher in my 30’s.
Yeah, there is a lot of evil in this world, and every day I witness injustices, travesties, malice, greed, and unkindness. Because there are so many of those moments that when I find the opposite, I take an intentional pause to acknowledge it and appreciate it. I have found such kindness this summer at Disney. And yeah, I get it, it’s a business, and people are paying top dollar to be here, and there are a lot of entitled guests who push and shove. But if you look really hard and take a moment to see past the exhaustion and heat and the hectic nature of some of the traveling guests, there are beautiful “love-your-neighbor” moments that I have learned from.
I think of the young family with the two children I shared a bus ride with. The littlest was only a baby, crying and screaming in the bus. The mother, looking exhausted, attempted unsuccessfully to quiet the child. It finally took the older girl, maybe only 5-6 herself to captivate the baby. She got down into the child’s face and began to sing, “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands,” as her little hands clapped the baby’s face lit up, and she stopped crying. The little girl continued to tell the baby how beautiful she was, and how the baby lived in a castle, and that they were headed “home” to take the baby there. “Home” being Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella’s castle. It was simply a gentle moment I witnessed between the two siblings, yet precious all unto itself. That kind of love isn’t taught. It’s something that young girl was “born with,” or created to do.
I think of my housekeeper at my current resort. She’s deaf and mute, and these past two days she has knocked so gently on my door to clean it. When I open it, she will write down on a pad of paper a simple question, “Would you like me to clean your room?” with the biggest smile. My heart goes out to her. Every time I pass her in the hall, she gives me the biggest smile, and I wish I could give her so much more money than she’s getting paid.
I think of the special needs boy in his chair being loved on by Goofy. Whatever cast member that was playing that character did a wonderful job. It nearly brought tears to my eyes to see how loving and gentle Goofy was to the small special needs boy. The joy and appreciation radiated from his parents’ eyes.
I think of the magical moments I’ve witnessed between smiling family members, listening to them converse and reminisce about previous memories. Listening to the stories and connections that random strangers share with each other on buses or boats or monorails. They perhaps will never encounter each other again, and that kind moment of shared experiences may be forgotten. But in these special moments, people aren’t vegged out on their smart devices, but are engaging in honest, kind, conversations with real live human beings. It’s nice to see.
I think of the dad lifting his little girl on his shoulders so she can get a better view of the fireworks, even through his discomfort.
I think of my server this morning at breakfast who took a little extra effort to ask where I’m from and why I’m traveling, and if I’m okay.
I think of the custodians who work all night long to keep Disney pristine and beautiful.
I think of the parents who save up year after year to treat their children to an amazing summer experience.
I think of the stranger who held the door open for me.
The woman who helped another woman carry her tray for her to her table, even though she didn’t know who she was.
I think of and see all these things, and I have to praise God for the small moments of human decency that still exist in this horrific world.
So, maybe you’re not lucky like me to be at Disney World for the summer, maybe your stuck in your daily grind, and hustle and bustle of real life, and your encounters with stressed out people or family members, or your glued to your social media or smart devices . . .
That doesn’t mean kindness isn’t happening all around you.
Take a moment to look up.
Devin Anavitarte is one of the founders of Enspire Productions. He is currently the chaplain at Burton Adventist Academy.