Saturday, December 15, 2012

On...the difference

Hearts can say a lot without words.
"Did we make a difference today?" Out of the blue that question came from Steve while we were driving home from Quiltsmart. I don't know where the train of thought came from to preface the question, but I knew the answer. Yes. It felt good, too...though it didn't occur to me til he asked. My simple unexpected story started with an email we received the day before from a lady asking if we could give her tips on finishing a 20 year old quilt top with appliqu├ęd hearts. She had found our website and liked the (very basic) article about finishing quilts. At the end of the email, she mentioned that she made the quilt top, but couldn't finish it back then due to reasons to difficult to talk about. Now, she would like to give it to her grown son. 

I make quilt tops and know how to finish them about as well as a gourmet chef would know how arrange the flowers to complete a dinner.  The "finishing" is not my forte. So, I gave her advice like I would give  a friend...go to your local quilt shop and ask them for books, advice, "quilt by check" (i.e. find a long-armer at the quilt shop). I read her email again. I pondered what her reasons for not finishing it were - what was too difficult to talk about?  And, then I added that quilting is not only fun, but can be healing too, and that I hoped she found that in finishing her quilt.

She wrote back and thanked me for the tips and said that while having dinner with friends she had found a quilt guild contact (I should have thought of that, too!). Then, she wrote, "Thank you for reaching out." She said that you never know what comfort you can get from someone you might not know. Upon reading those words, my eyes filled with tears. When I got her email, I felt it was not a question that should be answered by my company, and thought that it would not do her or me any good to spend much time on that email. Though, I wanted to answer her question, it was outside my comfort zone. I "passed her off"...knowingly because I didn't think I was qualified enough.

What brought the tears is that I realized that if you try to help and do "reach out" that you just don't know what a difference it might make to someone - whether you have time or not, whether you are an expert or not. It just might make all the difference for someone today. If she had not written back, I would not have known that we made a difference today. But, perhaps by saying the one extra nice thing, or smiling at a stranger, or sending a compliment - just maybe that might make the difference in someone's life today...and, you might not get the joy of knowing that you did, but you know you tried, and that might make the difference in someone's life - including your own. A great question for the dinner table or a drive home - "Did we make a difference in someone's life today?"

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