Jun 25, 2017 filed under Beatitudes, Love.

Kindness in a cup of coffee

“… his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled…. (Mat 9:36).

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that evil is always like a brick through a window. But kindness can be like that, too: coming from nowhere when you least expect it.

At a Starbucks in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was visiting family this week, the clerk, Leah, asked what kind of day I was having. I said it was a strange day. “Strange as in?” she asked. I hesitated. “I’m going over to visit my sick mom, likely for the last time.”

She told me how sorry she was to hear about my mother, assured me of her prayers, and as I reached into my wallet, she added, “It’s on the house.”

Her kind words came crashing through my windowpane of self-protection and by the time I reached the parking lot, I was crying. A business transaction had, through her compassion, become a profound gift of one heart to another in a time of need.

Jesus always took time to notice other people and reach out with healing hands and a healing word. We can do that, too, but it requires the freedom to get outside ourselves. Leah was free from the two biggest obstacles to love: self-absorption and fear. She was free to be Jesus to me at a crucial moment.

Self-absorption keeps us from love because we fail to notice someone in need. Jesus knew it when a woman outside his range of vision reached out to touch the tassel of his cloak. And fear blocks love when we worry about the response we will get if we reach out to someone we don’t know. Jesus let a scandalous woman publicly anoint his feet with her tears.

Leah’s open heart opened my heart up, too—not only to tears, but to ask God, “What does my mother need from me now and what would I regret not having said?” The answer came quickly: she needs to be reminded of her good qualities and you need to say it.

Touched by Leah’s generosity (and spurred on by espresso), I was able to escape self-pity and embrace the freedom to tell my mom all the things I admire about her.

And another gift followed. As I recounted my mother’s gifts and strengths, childhood memories of laughter and tenderness came to mind, which I look forward to sharing with her by phone until God takes her from the arms of her beloved husband and claims her all for Himself.

Love always,

24 Responses to “Surprised by Kindness”

  1. Marti Otten

    Your family is in my prayers Rose. Blessings to your mom at this time of transition.
    You represent the best of her, her gift of birth to humankind. You have a final parting gift to give and share.’ All my love

  2. Jini Druliner

    Oh Rose you made me cry…..sort of overwhelmed by the sweetness of your story. I will pray for you and your mother also. Thank you for this sweet story.

  3. Faye McAneny

    Today Msgr Hart talked about taking risks and plunging into the deep of faith sharing. Your sharing led the barista to share and gave you the strength to open up precious memories for your mom and you. Finally, you shared it with us! I am one among many whose day was blessed by your post.

  4. Sharon O'Brien


    Love and prayers for your Mom and the whole family.

  5. Ophelia

    I pray God’s love embrace you and His perfect peace surrounds you and your family during this time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rose Folsom

      I remember you from the February 2016 Women’s Conference. Thank you for your prayers — they have a strong effect.
      Love in Christ,

  6. Mary Kay Kuenzi

    Thank you Rose for sharing this beautiful story. It’s something you want to pass on to others but it has its own uniqueness. God must be very pleased with Leah! My prayers to you and your family at this very difficult time.

    • Rose Folsom

      Mary Kay,
      Yes, love is “ever ancient, ever new.” And it never runs out! Thank you so much for your prayers.

  7. Mary Stasek

    Hi Rose: What a great story. I hear so many of these stories from Wisconsin. We are so blessed to live here.
    We have so many little towns with lovely people!


    • Rose Folsom

      You are right! Having grown up there, I tell people that Wisconsin is a great place — from May to September, hee hee. And of course YOU are one of those lovely people.

  8. Irmgard

    thanks for sharing your experience, kindness like this makes me rejoice.
    I had just talked to a young lady on Friday about vulnerability, and how one can receive so much love if one is willing to share.
    Peace starts with me
    Glad this loving gesture cleared your heart and mind to give back to your Mom,
    will say a prayer for her.

    • Rose Folsom

      Thank you, Irmgard. I suppose another lesson here is that little things we do for people that we don’t feel are very big or important can have a powerful impact if we’re doing them in the Holy Spirit.

  9. Sheila R. Kitzman

    I was fortunate to spend time with your mom on several occasions. I will remember her wit, her intelligence, her curiosity, her laugh. She was a delight to be with, and I treasure those memories. Peace be with her, and with you.
    Love and prayers.

    • Rose Folsom

      Yes, that is a good 4-word portrait of her, especially the curiosity! An intellectual omnivore. In fact, she spends some of her few waking hours watching WWII documentaries and lectures on European history, chuckling at the lecturer’s joke about Charles II.

  10. Max

    My dear Rose, you inspire me by your strength and love. You and your family are in my prayers.

  11. Colleen Kiko

    This is just beautiful, Rose. Thank you for sharing.