We had finished our salads. “Would you like a cookie?” I asked. “I feel like a cookie.”
He hesitated. “Sure.”
“Chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin?”
I went to the counter, scanned the cookies and saw neither oatmeal raisin nor chocolate chip. Instead there was a label “Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.” Perfect, I thought. I handed the only two in the rack to the clerk.
Up walked the young man whose eye had caught mine on my way to the counter. Eyes meeting, we had smiled, nodded hello. “Did you just get the last oatmeal chocolate chip?” he wanted to know.
“Yes,” I said, “Did you want it?”
“Well, I did, but that’s OK.”
“Oh, here,” I said. “Take it.” He held up his hand to wave it off. “No, seriously, it’s yours. A gift.” He fumbled for his wallet. “It’s a random act of kindness. Accept it. Don’t mess it up,” I said.
He laughed and said, “Pass it on, eh?”
“That’s right. Pass it on.” I selected a chocolate chocolate chip, a replacement cookie, from the rack and handed it to the clerk. I pulled out my wallet.
“You’ve already paid,” she said.
“No, I haven’t. I just gave him one of my cookies. I owe you for this.”
“You don’t owe,” she said. I argued that I did. “It’s on me,” she said, emphatically leaning toward me.
“Oh, I get it. Guess I better take my own advice. A random act of kindness. So I should just say, ‘Thanks.’ So, thanks. Thanks a bunch.”
If I were writing the Bible I would put in a verse that says, “What goes around comes around.” In fact, it is already there, in Mark 4: “The measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.” It doesn’t matter if it is the waiter you tip, the cookie you give away, the donation you make so that others might eat, the tithe you give to your faith community, the cup of cold water you offer a passerby on a scorching August day, the five minutes helping a child with a homework assignment: giving is the most wonderful thing in the world. It totally tickles God when creatures like us do what God’s very nature ensures that God does incessantly: give.
“Go through your house,” someone once told me. “Look at all the things you think you can’t part with. Imagine yourself giving them away. Practice parting with things. Don’t give until it hurts, because it might hurt early on. Give until your heart sings.”
The Great Giver of the Universe must feel that way eternally—just plain good.