Yesterday an errand took longer than expected and I wound up far from home in need of lunch. I popped into a small Thai restaurant for a bowl of curry. When I was almost finished, a man came in to pick up his take-out order. When he left, the Thai waitress came over and said he had paid my tab.
I was just stunned. I've heard of this happening but it's never happened to me. She said often monks come in there and others pay their bill. I looked around the small restaurant-- every table had 2 people except for one, where a man was checking out the menu. I whispered to the waitress that I was gonna pick up his tab when he ordered. She said it wasn't necessary, but you know I was giddy like a little kid just thinking about paying it forward.
I paid and left there on cloud nine. I was a kinder and more careful driver. I smiled all the way home. I was more loving towards my dogs and flowed into a stressful situation that arose for one of our beloved sangha members. Today my heart still feels softer and more open. It was such a beautiful example of how one person's act of kindness has a ripple effect that can never be measured.
And that curry was totally awesome.