A gentle resolution for your new year

Today, I got to witness the best in humanity when I attended an outdoor funeral service for Mr. Brown, a homeless man who spent most of his nights under a tree at the park near my house.

Mourners were invited to bring blankets, men’s coats, and hand warmers to donate to others experiencing homelessness in his honor. In the face of our sadness, it was a heartening sight to see—a community gathering to celebrate this man’s life through giving.

It was also a welcome reminder that despite all the havoc this year has wrought, opportunities abound for us to show kindness and to be the good in the world.

Sadly, I don’t know much about Mr. Brown. I’ve seen him in my neighborhood since 2008, but I’ve only talked to him a few times.

His life story must have been difficult. For years I was afraid of him, because he would always be yelling as he walked, like he was in a heated argument with someone. The first time I ran after him to give him food, I was nervous, but he was gracious. I’m embarrassed that I ever thought he’d act otherwise.

He and I attended the same church, and the last time I saw him I gave him what money I had in my wallet. He was so appreciative and kind and said “God bless” as he walked away.

One Sunday morning at church, before COVID hit, the pastor asked us to offer peace to others. I watched as a friend of mine stood up, went over to Mr. Brown and gave him a giant hug. I cry every single time I think of her doing that because it gave me peace, too.

So if you want to forgo your usual resolutions, here’s a gentler one: Let’s keep looking for ways to break through the noise and offer peace to others. And let’s notice when others offer it to us.

I hope you carry that into the new year.

Much love to you,

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