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It was one of those days when I wondered if anything I did mattered in the big scheme of things.  I had read too many headlines, absorbed too much madness, felt helpless, impotent, insignificant.  So much hurt.  So many hurting.  Too much.  Too many.

“Does anything I do matter?” is a hard, lonely place to be.

Over time, I have learned some things to do when I get to that hard, lonely place.  One of them is to walk a labyrinth, an ancient mandala of meditation.  There is a beautiful labyrinth in my town.  It’s over by the cancer rehab center in a lovely park.  A healing place that holds space for people dealing with serious problems.

“Does anything I do matter?” is a serious question.

I went to the labyrinth, stood at the threshold and asked the question: “Does what I do matter?”  And I began walking to the center.

Three giant Blue Spruce trees stand tall beside the labyrinth. Occasionally people hang things on them.  Once I saw dozens of affirmation cards.  That day I saw a ceramic flower, a left-over Christmas ornament perhaps.  It looked like it was made by a kid, a “first-ceramic” look to it, primary colors, simple shape.  Cute, colorful.  I passed the ornament several times as I weaved back and forth following the spiraling path to the center.  I didn’t stop to examine it.  I kept my pace, asking my question over and over.  Does what I do matter? Does what I do matter?

At the center I tried to quiet my mind, empty it, let something in that would reassure me.  A word?  A song?  Something?  Anything?  Nothing.  So I began the weaving, spiraling return to the outside.  This time, as I passed the giant spruce, my attention was drawn more closely to the ceramic flower.  It was more than a flower.  A cord connected a couple of other ceramic pieces to the flower, and a brass bell hung at the bottom.  Attached at the top was a card that read:

I laughed out loud!

Does what I do matter?  How much clearer could an answer come?  It matters.  Every act of kindness matters, no matter how small.  I did the math.  If what I do affects 5 people in a positive way, and each of those 5 people touch 5 people who touch 5 people who touch 5 people…  Well, the numbers get pretty big, pretty fast.  I don’t have to wait to do BIG things.  Just do the small, kind things I can do every day.  Because it adds up, multiplies up.  It matters.

When I got home, I found the website that told me the story about little Ben, about his mother who, in her grief, began making bells, hanging them for people to find.  About the hundreds of volunteers who now do the same.  About the weekly honoring of someone who quietly does something of kindness.  The bells are hung all over town where people can find them, and kindness is multiplied.  Some bells find their way out of town.  Somehow, a Ben’s Bell made by anonymous volunteers in Phoenix, Arizona found its way to a giant Blue Spruce in Loveland, Colorado to speak to me, to answer my question when I was doubting my worth.  How’s that for a ripple effect?

Yes, it was one of those days.  It was a day when my answer came from a 3-year-old boy named Ben who threw his arms around my neck and planted a big, fat, wet kiss on my cheek.