Last Saturday, as I walked into the Royal Cup Coffee Shop, I was greeted by Rajeev.Â He said that a package had arrived for me, I asked him from whom, he said he didn’t know.Â I couldn’t figure out why a package would come to our Seva Cafe location and not to our PO BOX Address but I was too distracted to tryÂ to piece the logic together.Â
I was setting up for our regular Seva Cafe location when Rajeev finally handed the package over to me.Â It had already been opened.Â I looked on the Priority Mail package and noticed that instead of putting their name and address, the sender had only left the word: “Smile!”.Â I immediately recognized that this was something special in my hands and consequently a desire to share this gift with others arose.Â I took the package over to the where five new volunteers were sitting and I showed them the package.Â Ever since they arrived the new volunteers were asking me questions of what the Seva Cafe was.Â Here, I thought, was an opportunity to show them in action.Â Before I opened the package, I told them that these are the kinds of things that happen here.
We opened the Priority Mail package and inside we discovered a book, a note, and a self-addressed envelope.Â I first proceeded to read the note out loud:
I read this book from start to finish in one sitting.Â I have never done this before.Â I hope this book finds you well and has the same profound effect on you that it had on me.Â I know this breaks the rules, but I would like you to read my secret before mailing it.Â Thank you for helping me,
I contemplated the latter part of the letter for a moment.Â Not quite understanding what rules were being broken and what this person’s secret was, I proceeded to look at the book for some clues.Â The book was entitled: “The Secret Lives of Men and Women“.Â It was a compilation of selected secrets submitted to www.postsecret.com.Â Individuals anywhere could send in their secrets by depicting them on a postcard.Â It allows them to share their common humanity with others, and relieves them of a burden that they may have been carrying for a long time.Â I opened the book to a random page and the ‘realness’ of the human experience hit me immediately.Â A postcard with a woman confessing that she is more afraid of aging than of dying, and another photograph of a priest withÂ “Some Days, it feels more like a noose!!” written on his clerical collar.
Then it hit me.Â TheÂ self-addressed envelope contained the secret of this anonymous sender, and they actuallyÂ wanted me to read their secret before it made its way to postsecret.com.Â I looked inside the envelope unsure of whatÂ secrets were awaiting me.Â I pulledÂ out,Â with little surprise, a Smile Card.Â One the smile card was hand written the anonymous senders secret: “I can’t give gifts or do community service without expecting something in return.”Â … and at the bottom in bigÂ bold letters: “Not Anymore!“Â
In that moment, we all wondered if we do service without expectation.Â Maybe that was a secret that all of us were harboring and was unleashed through the courage of this anonymous sender.Â I also thought about all the secrets that I keep locked up in myself.Â How the things that actually make me human are the things that I try so hard to hide from others.Â I keep my own pain and anger locked away so that others won’t think poorly of me.Â That’s my secret.