I saw a commercial today that featured a Queensland, Australia helicopter rescue team that saved 43 lives during flooding caused by Cyclone Yasi.

The team was given street addresses of those in need, but with water obscuring the roads, addresses were useless. Turns out they had a phone with them and used Google Maps and the built-in GPS to be led directly to the flood victims.

The story got me thinking about rescue, which can come in so many shapes and sizes, and at all times of the day.

Smile at someone who may quietly think the whole world is against him and you’ve just rescued someone.

Tell someone who’s dealing with a severe case of writer’s block a funny story and you’ve just rescued them.

A care package for someone who’s homesick.

A simple “thank you” to someone who longs to be appreciated.

A compliment to someone who knows a steady stream of criticism.

A promise of faithfulness to someone who has never known it.

A hug for someone who has known many hits.

A phonecall to someone who is constantly amazed that, despite all the people in the world, his phone never rings.

A warm “good night” or a cheery “good day” to someone who has known only good-byes.

An open hand to someone too familiar with closed doors.

While not as outwardly dramatic as a helicopter rescue, all of these can have a lasting effect on someone. The team said that because of their rescue the flood victims had a chance to go on to live long lives, have families and watch grandchildren grow up. But a simple act of kindness can also extend someone’s life — not to mention warm their soul, uplift their spirit and bolster their sense of self.

Tonight I am thankful for the little acts of rescue and kindness dispensed by so many people, many of whom don’t even realize the saving they’re doing.

We may all often feel like ships passing in the night, but if we’re down and out, we need to remember to send up a flare for assistance every now and again. Here’s to being inspired by the acceptance and help that so many give, and to paying it forward for so many others in need.

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