He noticed her from the corner of his eye. It was just a glimpse, as he was hurrying down the side street of a metropolitan city to get to the parking terrace. It was a long day at work and he was anxious to get home.
But that one glimpse was enough for him to realize that she was a person in need. She was locked out of her car. She had parked on the side street, locked the doors to her vehicle and rushed into a nearby building. But she left her car keys inside the car. Now having returned, she was trying, without any success, to force a clothes hanger through a window to be able to open the lock on the vehicle door.Soon it would be dark.
Stopping to help, the man was able, within several minutes, to get the car door open.
A grateful woman exclaimed, "Thank you," and then asked, "What is your name?"
The man replied, "That is not important. It is important to do good deeds without always having to receive recognition," and with that they parted, neither knowing who the other was. But the lives of both were blessed.
The act of helping the woman was a simple act of being aware of the needs of those about us. It was an act of using peripheral vision.
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines peripheral vision as, "All that is visible to the eye outside the central area of focus."
All of us have our own areas of focus, which usually require a large chunk of time, effort and attention. For some, it may be family and home; for others, it may be Church or community; for still others, it may be schooling, employment or career; or it could be a combination of all of these.
Whatever the central area of our focus may be, life is full of opportunities for us to use our "side vision" - to look outwardly to help alleviate the needs of others. If we fail to expand our focus beyond our own needs and concerns, we may never notice the countless people all about us who may need our help. We thereby lose the chance to bless their lives as well as our own. We miss some of life's greatest joys, found only as we help lift the burdens of others.
How do we forget about ourselves and help those who are in need? How do we reduce inward focus and turn it into outward focus?
The answer is simple.
Doing it is more difficult.
The answer, of course, lies in centering our lives in the teachings of the Savior and developing His pure love for all mankind.
To the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said: "I know thy heart and have heard thy prayers concerning thy brethren. Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself; and let thy love abound unto all men, and unto all who love my name." (D&C 112:11.)
Such is the type of love demonstrated by a kindly, middle-aged woman, who through her concern and kindness, undoubtedly forged in the fires of her own adversities, has touched the lives of those about her. Most of the families in her ward, if not all of them, have been the recipient of her acts of kindness and caring. The receiving of a pan of her warm, homemade sweet rolls is, in reality, the receiving of her love.
"I thought perhaps you would like these," she says as she delivers the rolls, fresh from her oven. The simple phrase carries a monumental message that, in spite of her own serious health problems, she is looking outward to make the day a little brighter for others, rather than inward to her own troubles. It would be so easy for her to stay home and feel sorry for herself, but that is not her nature.
Such people, in spite of their own afflictions, look for opportunities to help others and bring joy to their lives.
Indeed, there are people in this world who seem to have the ability - either innate or acquired - to lift others. Their peripheral vision is not blinded by the glare of their own needs and concerns.
We should try to emulate the acts of love and kindness of these people, and in so doing we will find that we, in reality, have found the pure love of Christ in our lives.