I paid for a lady’s limes today. You read that right…limes. I was 3 shoppers deep when I finally made my way up to the cashier. The woman had just checked out before me with an overflowing cart of items and had neglected to ring up the limes wedged in the back of the cart. She realized as she was halfway out the door that she hadn’t paid for them and turned back in despair to see the long line of carts behind me – also overflowing, as well as nearly every other lane and customer service several carts deep as well. She sighed considering the prospect of getting back in line. I felt so bad for her so I told the cashier to put them on my bill. The woman was overjoyed (and I was thinking…lady, it’s just a few limes. No big deal. I got you.) She then went into a story about how she was making a special dinner for some older folks who were afraid to leave their home and that she had a lot of prep work to do tonight. She thanked me profusely with tears in her eyes and scurried out the door. “That was very kind,” said the cashier. I smiled, still thinking it was no big deal.

As I was leaving the store, I realized that I too had left a smaller, yet more expensive, item in the bottom of my cart, and without missing a beat, the woman behind me said, “I got you,” and motioned for the clerk to put it on her bill. I smiled with gratitude, thanked her and walked toward my car. “That was very nice,” I thought.

Almost immediately, this juicy little nugget of universal wisdom dropped in…

“Instead of waiting for the opportunity to be compassionate to reveal itself to you, seek it out. You never know how far the ripple will expand and the lives it will affect…and one of those lives, just may be your own.

And when it expands, it will double back upon you, not because you intended it to do so, but because you led with loving kindness and leading with loving kindness cultivates a loving and kind world.”

Boom…and the Universe drops the mic.

I like to imagine that older homebound couple now, enjoying their lime cilantro chicken and the joy they are experiencing knowing they are so cherished by their neighbor, and me and the lady behind me in Publix checkout lane 4.

And I like to imagine the women’s children watching her joyfully cooking in preparation for that special meal.

And I like to imagine how those children see the model of compassion their mother is and the way in which they will apply that skill themselves.

And I like to imagine how there are thousands upon thousands of compassionate acts happening simultaneously around the globe creating little “compassion ripples.” And that these ripples are changing the world in ways we can not yet see with our physical eyes but in ways we can feel in our hearts. And these ripples are expanding and intersecting in powerful exponential ways to create a more loving world today and tomorrow and the next day in the lives of people we will never meet. Such that, some day very soon, this will be the visible world we live in. All we need to do is seek the opportunity to extend loving kindness. Expand the “Compassion Ripple.”

I’ve started a website called “CompassionRipple.com” to capture stories like this. I would love to see how many stories we can collect and share. Give me a day or two to get it up and running or share your story on your FB using #CompassionRipple and I will transfer it to the site when it goes live.

In the meantime….you know what to do.