The kindness of a stranger

I stumbled across the ‘Faith’ poem today, written by Patrick Overton:

When you walk to the edge of all the light you have 
and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, 
you must believe that one of two things will happen:

There will be something solid for you to stand upon,
or, you will be taught how to fly.

I love how it’s all about walking to the edge, taking a step, believing …

To me, this speaks of faith.
Faith that God will provide something solid for me to stand upon.
Faith that He will enable me to fly.
Faith that He is there for me when I reach the edge.

I guess that’s why it’s called the ‘Faith’ poem.

Even if we don’t have faith in God, we need to have faith in something. Otherwise, what happens when we reach the edge?

There’s been a story in the news this last week, which has got me thinking about this, about what happens when we reach the edge.

It’s a story about mental health campaigner, Jonny Benjamin. When he was 20, he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. It caused him to lose hope. One morning in January 2008, he was standing on the edge of Waterloo Bridge in central London,  about to take his own life.

He had got to the edge of all the light he had.

But the kindness of a stranger stopped him.

It didn’t take much. The passerby just had the right words.

Calming words. Kind words. Words of empathy and reassurance. Words of hope.

Words that helped give Jonny something solid to stand on.

His act of kindness changed my outlook on life and I have thought about him ever since. I want to find this man so I can thank him for what he did. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here today.

Jonny agreed to climb back over the railings to safety. The police stepped in to look after him. The passerby continued on his way to work.

But Jonny never got to know the stranger’s name.

Six years on and Jonny wanted to find and thank the man he named ‘Mike’. The power of social media led to the ‘Find Mike’ campaign, which went viral.

The result was an emotional reunion between Jonny and the passerby. 

His name wasn’t ‘Mike’. It was Neil. And he was just an ordinary person. Just like you and me. But there’s something about his ordinariness that makes me love this story. 

It reminds me that it’s the smallest of smiles, words, actions, which can have the biggest impact. It reminds me that it doesn’t take much to reach out to someone. It reminds me, today, tomorrow, to look out for the person who might just need me to help them find something solid to stand upon, or the means to fly. 

There’s a lot to be said for the kindness of a stranger.

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