By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

Efforts that help people and that recently have sprung up along the streets of my city show that small acts do matter.

IMG_0708Take for example, the Little Free Library, a worldwide movement of tiny neighborhood “libraries” that is based on the philosophy of “take a book; leave a book.” Each little library box is uniquely designed, placed and tended.  The ones I’ve seen have sprouted up along ordinary residential streets, full of a variety of adult and children’s books.

Although these little libraries are not substitutes for a full-service public branch, they offer a glimpse into what neighbors read and leave to share with others and are a small, localized way to encourage reading of real books with pages to turn.

An even more recent phenomenon is the emergence of “take a coat, leave a coat” racks outside of restaurants and other businesses. Passersby are invited to leave coats, scarves, gloves and hats for those who need them. Takers can help themselves.

A third movement, known as “suspended coffee,” refers to the purchase of one’s own coffee as well as that of someone who needs a cup of joe, but who may not be able to pay for it.

While these three gestures of caring for someone else might not change world or national politics, unjust systems, or inhumane living situations, they can help transform both the givers and the takers.

These small, simple random acts of kindness tap into our innate generosity, deepen our compassion and make us more aware of others.

They open us to the Spirit moving gently through a society where generous people reach beyond their own interests to help someone whom they’ll probably never meet.

We are indeed one Body called and challenged to live outside our own concerns. Someone out there needs a book, a coat, and a cup of coffee.