If you are a person who thinks and feels deeply, these are difficult times. Whether the heartbreaking struggles of family and friends are weighing heavily on your mind, (like me) or the state of what appears to be our crumbling society, have you doubting the future of the planet (also like me); don't give in to the darkness.

Every now and then, something remarkable occurs and you realize that hope is one commodity you just can't let go of. Ever.

Yesterday was a typical busy fall day. I left work and ran several errands, went home, and put together a birthday box for my sister in Montana, loaded that into my vehicle, gathered garbage and put that out, and then decided to grab the mail before I headed to UPS.

As I walked around the house, I noticed numerous branches laying on the yard. This plethora of woody stalks was likely to become projectiles (at worst) or annoying hindrances (at best) when my lawn care guy showed up. Because I think the world of Brian, I picked up most of the big ones I could see, and headed for the garbage container.

I was laying the branches on the lid of the garbage can when I heard a little voice say, "Hello!" I turned and it was a young neighbor girl, who I had encountered several times in the past while out in the yard with my dogs.

She most often was walking a Yorkshire terrier, which was tiny in my estimation but had enough energy and muscle to yank this slight, 9 or 10-year-old, around. We would always say hello and have very brief conversations at my fence which her little Yorkie had pulled her over to and then she would go on her way.

Yesterday after her happy greeting, she took a step up the driveway and asked, "How are your dogs?" I stopped arranging the branches on the garbage can lid and turned to her with a catch in my throat and told her that they had died.

Her shoulders dropped and her school backpack sagged behind her, as she said, "Oh no, you must be terribly sad!" I nodded as she continued, "You need to get another puppy." I said, "Maybe. Someday, I guess." She said, "I had a dog that died and I cried and cried for days. But then, I got over being sad and got a new puppy. You should go to the Humane Society, they have lots of dogs, or you should get a new puppy and I'd walk it for you every day." '

The tears were now streaming down my face, "I'm still too sad right now, honey. But maybe sometime." She responded somewhat dejectedly, (as if she'd failed in her mission) "Okay, but I promise I'll walk it! Alright?" I choked out, "Okay."

My instinct was to run to her, grab her up into my arms, hug the stuffins' out of her, tell her what a wonderful kid she was and how she just made my day! But societal propriety, the fact that I have no idea who the adorable little strawberry-blonde is, and the desire to not scare the crap out of her, stopped me.

But this minor encounter with major impact, on an otherwise ordinary afternoon, reminded me that there is still kindness and grace in an increasingly barbarous world. Somehow it was fitting that a child's sweet wisdom, sympathy, and good will, turned a sunny October afternoon into a place of hope.

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