Two days ago, I walked from the bus stop to my home. I said hello to familiar faces; we exchanged small talk and smiles. But I stepped outside my normal routine and said hello to a stranger. She was watering a garden, scented and accented with white gardenias. Even with my diminishing sense of smell, the scent of the flowers had reached me from a short distance.
She responded to my greeting with a smile. Encouraged, I complimented her gardenias, which were stunning. As a gift, she snipped a few flowers, complete with leaves, and presented them to me.
Her gift yielded a few lessons about life and money.
- Speak up. By stepping outside of myself, I opened the door for a neighbor's generosity. A short greeting and a heart-felt compliment produced a small and unexpected bonus.
- Be generous. The gardenia woman usually picks most of the flowers for her own floral arrangements, but she always saves a few on the bush for passersby who admire the flowers. Her philosophy prompted me to think of random acts of kindness that I can offer. What are the areas of abundance in my own life and how can I be more generous? Her generosity did not cost her much and meant a lot to me.
- Listen. After presenting her gift, the woman offered suggestions about creating floral arrangements. Her No. 1 suggestion: Fill a small bowl with water, and let the gardenias float on the surface. I listened carefully, wishing that I had paid more attention to others in my life when they had offered free lessons in life, money and relationships. But mostly, I felt grateful that I have -- finally -- developed enough patience to listen to wise strangers and to stop to smell white gardenias.