From Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul

The Cry of a Woman’s Heart

Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love; make haste to be kind.

Henri Frederic Amiel

The underprivileged children who attended our church-sponsored Christmas party feasted on Christmas goodies, enjoyed a puppet show and received gifts from Santa. When the last carload of children had gone, we breathed a collective sigh of relief, tinged with fatigue and gratitude.

Pointing to the extra gifts left in Santa’s black bag, Jean asked, “What are we going to do with all these toys?”

As we deliberated, Bobbie said, “Remember the three sisters who were at the party? Why don’t we deliver the toys to their house on Monday while the girls are in school?”

Everyone agreed. Since I lived closest to the three little girls, I volunteered to deliver the gifts. On Monday, I drove to their home, confident their mother would be there. As I got out of my car, a small dog appeared. He barked ferociously and followed dangerously close to my ankles as I hurried to the front porch. Keeping the dog at bay with one immense bag of toys, I knocked on the door. No one answered. I knocked repeatedly for several minutes. Still no answer.

Exasperated, I said under my breath, “Okay, now what am I supposed to do? I can’t haul these presents around all day!”

Managing to stay a few steps ahead of the yapping dog, I returned to the safety of my car. After I calmed down a bit I remembered hearing one of the ladies at the church mention some needy children she had transported to the party. The children lived in a frame house not far from where I sat.

As I approached that location, I saw three run-down frame houses side by side. “Oh, no,” I muttered. “How am I supposed to know which house is the right one?” I turned into the large dirt yard that was shared by all three families. As I unbuckled my seat belt, I sighed. “Oh, well, I’ll try the middle one first.”

I knocked on the door. As I prepared to knock again, the door opened halfway. “Yes?” A tired-looking young woman with reddened eyes stood in the doorway. My guess was she had been crying for some time.

Feeling embarrassed, but remembering my purpose, I proceeded. “Sorry for the intrusion. I’m Johnnie from Glen Forest on Old Alabama Road. We hosted a Christmas party on Saturday, and I wondered if your children attended?”

“No,” she answered, shaking her head despondently.

“Well, I happen to have a trunk full of extra presents that I need to give to some willing recipients. If you have children who need toys, I’d be delighted to leave them with you.”

The woman began to cry. After several minutes, she regained her composure. Between sobs she explained. “I was just sitting here crying . . . wondering how I was going to buy gifts for my children this Christmas . . . and here you are . . . standing at my front door.”

She helped me carry the gifts inside. As tears trickled down her cheeks, she smiled and said, “Thank you . . . thank you so much.”

“No need to thank me,” I said gently. “I’m merely the delivery person. Your Heavenly Father arranged for you to have these gifts.”

Now, more than twenty years later, I still cannot explain God’s mysterious ways, but I can recount the joy of being the one he used to respond to the cry of the woman’s heart.

Johnnie Ann Gaskill

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