Last Saturday my eight-year-old daughter, Piper, and I went to the library. After much debate and discussion, she and I ended up checking out lots of books – 16 to be exact.
I believe libraries are the great equalizer. Through libraries everyone gets a shot at learning or being connected. Libraries change lives.
As my daughter and I appreciated the cool comfort of the downtown library, we braced ourselves to re-enter heat that felt a lot like a blow-dryer on high heat just outside the doors. We pushed the doors open and the heat was overpowering.
Even still, once outside, Piper and I ended up encountering another kind of magic.
Remember the 16 books she and I checked out?
They weren’t tiny picture books. They were big books – books to help us kick off a major undertaking. We may have gone slightly overboard, but we like to have our bases covered.
As anyone who’s ever lugged a backpack full of books can attest, the load we were carrying was beyond healthy. However, I knew we could make it one way or the other. As we walked outside, we met a lady we knew on our way out the library. We exchanged pleasantries as she ran inside to escape the oppressive heat.
I quickly realized Piper and I needed a new plan. We were not capable of making the full distance to the car. Just as I was about to suggest her waiting with the books and me running to get the car, Ray came into the picture.
I had never seen Ray before. He was a young man leaving the library, about to walk home with his younger brother. He walked up to us and simply said, “Let me help you.”
The transfer of books happened in an instant. One moment Ray was turning the corner from the library door, with his little brother trailing behind him. The next moment, seemingly without thinking, he did what he could do to ease the burden of someone else.
I’ve found that most of us these days are not comfortable accepting help when it’s offered — even when it’s help we could use. Lately, I’ve become more aware of being open to accepting help when it is offered.
So, there we were — an unlikely grouping of four, chatting as we made our way to the car. In one way, it was one of those awkward sort of moments that happens when worlds collide for an instant and you make small talk. In another way, it was its own kind of magic.
Ray told me he plays football for Lafayette High. He said he was entering 10th grade and wants to play linebacker. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling Ray will be a good one.
There he was, spending a Saturday afternoon at the library with his younger brother helping a woman and her daughter whom he had never met and will likely never see again.
Lately, I’ve lost a lot of hope in a lot of people.
Ray helped bring some back.