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An act of kindness. A postcard from Israel, January 12th, 1979

A small act of kindness. A postcard from Israel, 1979

My Journal and a postcard from Israel, 1979

On January 11th, 1979, I slept in a small green tent beside the road at the entrance to Masada, Israel, with my friend Chrissy.

Chrissy and I didn’t have enough money to stay at the youth hostel. We could see it at the top of the hill, beside Masada, when we pitched our tent, in the middle of the night beside the road. We had hitchhiked from Kibbutz Reshafim.

“… had just started to eat my apple when an army lorry going to Jerusalem stops. Hell of a time trying to climb in the back. Really flew off those seats on a bumpy road. Got dropped off in the middle of nowhere with Masada in front of us. And it was dark. ”  Journal entry, January 12th, 1979

We had a bag of dried onion soup the kitchen staff at Kibbutz Reshafim had given us. We cooked it over a single propane burner in a small pot.  I had my 15$  monthly wage that I had earned from weeding sugar beets on the kibbutz,  $100 dollars that Diane from Canada had lent me so I could travel south with Chrissy, and a plane ticket home to Canada from Greece.

The zipper on the coat someone had given me was broken and I had a string tied around my waist to keep it together. The wooden clogs I found in a cabin on the Kibbutz, when a volunteer from Sweden had moved on, were worn down in the back.

There was a gift shop at Masada.

Where are you from? The man in the store asked.

Chrissy said, “England.”

I said, “Canada. We had worked on Kibbutz Reshafim.”

“Where are you staying.”

“In a tent.”

“Is it green?”

“Yes.”

We looked around the store. I found a postcard that summed up my experience in Israel. It was a picture of a market scene in Jerusalem,  taken in the old city. I didn’t have a camera. I wanted the postcard.

“I walked over and asked the man how much the postcards were. I then walked back and got the card I wanted. Walked back and handed him the card while I dug for my money. He put my card in a bag and handed it back to me. He waved away my money which I hadn’t dug up yet. So nice.”  Journal entry, January 12th 1979

The store owner was kind to me. A postcard is not expensive; but I asked the price before I considered buying it. He gave me the card.

That simple act of kindness has stayed with me for over 34 years. I found the postcard a few days ago in a box of papers.

The postcard brings back the memory of standing in the store digging through my wallet for two lira to pay for the card. And I am there again feeling the kindness from a stranger. The memory is vivid. I can see my open coat tied in front of me. The sound of the wooden shoes from Sweden echo on the wooden floor as I walk across the floor holding the postcard. A small treasure. Worth the price.

The man puts the postcard in a small brown envelope. And hands it back to me. He doesn’t want me to pay.

I feel loved. Someone noticed me. The store workers  kindness touched me and stayed with me. The memory was in a file that was reopened when I found the postcard.

My memory is like a filing cabinet. Some files have been deleted or put in an inactive file. Other memories are just waiting for a photograph, a postcard, or a friend to contact me, so they can be reopened and treasured again.

What do you remember? 

Has someone touched your life with kindness? 

—–

I thought the tent was red. When I read my journal I realized it had been green.

 

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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  • Robn Patrick

    I just melted into this story. I could see it play out in sepia tones.

  • Iya Hannum

    Umm. tried to post this earlier- I have a very recent memory of a dear friend bringing “unsalted” chicken soup in one of the scariest times of my life, just after her husband visited mine in the hospital, to let him know it could be ok. Your kindness, Pamela reaches far beyond what you realize.

    • Iya,
      Your friend must really love you.
      It appears a small kindness is remembered well beyond the time it was done. Chicken soup is good for the tummy and for the soul.
      Thank you for telling me about the soup.
      Would you like another batch?

  • Pamela,

    Loved your story. I too, was in Israel when Mike was stationed there. I clilmbed Masada and Mike took the Tram to the top. When I got there with a friend of ours walking with me Mike said, “I hope you don’t mind, I gave your water to Al.” It was 105 degrees. I kinda minded.

    A kindness remembered. One Christmas Lois Peterson, my Bible Teacher and spiritual mom picked out verses to give each of us for Christmas. That verse stayed with me and I felt so loved.

    Isaiah 50:7 “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”

    • Anne,
      How special that we both walked in the same places. Masada is full of so much history. Who is Mike? A son? He was kind to his friend. I am sorry he didn’t save your water for you.
      Thank you for sharing the bible verse. Lois Peterson gave you a beautiful gift.
      I think the best gift I could ever receive is forgiveness. I want it, but I don’t always like to give it.
      I pray we both can forgive when others haven’t been kind to us.
      xo
      Pamela

      • Pamela,
        No, Mike is my husband.

        I agree, forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another.

  • A beautiful, poignant story. Oh, how an act of kindness stays with you forever. I hope someone remembers a time when I was kind to them, and I hope they have forgotten the times I wasn’t kind.

    • Thank you Kathleen,
      Acts of kindness do stay with you forever. However, I pray the times we were unkind to others fades away like chalk on the sidewalk after a rain.
      I want to let go of my bitterness when people were mean to me. It appears I need to rain on my sidewalk.

  • Barbara Bianchi

    Thank you for this heartwarming story. Simple acts of kindness do stick with us. This is a reminder to me to do acts of kindness more often.

    • Barbara,
      You are very welcome.
      Do you remember someone who was kind to you?

  • margaret simon

    Amazing memory that just bumped you up on the ladder. I’ve never done anything so adventurous or daring, a foreign country with no money? Where was your tour guide? I am reading Wild and feeling so inadequate. And at this age, I will not go hike the Pacific Trail or camp out in Israel. But I do know kindness. That can be found with or without adventure.

    • Hello Margaret,
      I don’t know if I was adventurous or just plain silly. I was single and had no commitments, so it was easier to have just enough for one day. I had worked for several months to get to Europe, I just needed help to get home.
      Now, as a mother, I don’t even like to drive to New Jersey from Pennsylvania and take the train into New York City.
      Having children at home, I don’t do things as risky.
      Yes, kindness can be found with or without adventure. Somedays my biggest adventure is walking the dog.