The story of ‘ Little Red Hen’, is a well-known children’s tale and when my daughter was very young she took great delight in acting out the story. Little red hen kept asking for help from the other farm animals. Help with sowing the seeds, then watering, weeding, harvesting the corn, threshing and carrying the grain to the mill. On the requests went, to grind the grain into flour, to make the dough and finally to bake the bread. Of course no one helped and little red hen had to do it all herself.
I wonder how often we feel like little red hen. We ask for help that never seems to come when it is needed. We often end up struggling to do things ourselves leaving us feeling cross and lonely. Yet if we look more closely there is help, so much help that we have perhaps not recognised, or at least not valued. When going about our daily lives there are many little details that can make or break what we are doing. The shop assistant, who gives us a smile rather than a grumpy scowl .A friendly “hello” and smile when out walking the dog, or silent looking away. The driver who waits to let you out of a parking space, or the one who impatiently peeps their horn, or worse. The neighbour who brings in your washing when the rain comes on, or who looks after parcels for you . Thousands of small acts of kindness done willingly and cheerfully can and do make a difference. They cost nothing yet give pleasure to both parties.
I have a little book of sayings. One of my favourites is “the smile that you send out returns to you”. That applies to helping as well, what we do for others will come back in help for us. Perhaps it will be next week or next year, but one day, when you are in need someone will be there for you and it will be because you were there for someone else. Perhaps little red hen did not ask with a cheery smile, did not make the other animals feel good and that their help was valued. Perhaps the animals didn’t understand that the hard work would result in a wonderful loaf of delicious bread. The story doesn’t say, nor does it say what happened afterwards. Did the other animals change and become more helpful? We can help ourselves and others in all the trials of life by trying to be thoughtful , kind and caring in all we do and say, we may not be immediately rewarded, but one day that kindness will be repaid in full.