This morning has been full of kindness.
Not kindness received, per se, but stories of people who have tried to be kind to others. I’ve heard folks speak of cashiers at Walmart who have gone the extra mile. My inbox contained an email from someone who reflected on the kindness offered them while visiting a loved one in hospice.
My Facebook feed provided the reminder that a blogger I admire had published a book entitled “If God is Love; don’t be a Jerk”. Another friend reposted a story/poem from over a decade ago that I needed to reread: “Gate A-4”. In this poem, Naomi Shihab Nye tells the story of comforting an older Palestinian woman in an airport who believes her trip has been cancelled when it has only been delayed. Tears soon turn to joy and these two women of different generations wait together and share stories… and cookies. Nye speaks of how the cookies are soon spread like a sacrament around the waiting area, and how everyone there is dusted with sugar. In practicing kindness, the community as a whole is transformed.
I’m not doing the story justice. Read it here: https://poets.org/poem/gate-4
It’s the end of this story, of all the stories this morning that make me weepy as they insist, in Nye’s words: “This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”
Kindness can still happen.
I weep because I long for a world with more kindness.
This isn’t mushy work, but empathy requiring vulnerability. It’s work that focuses less on establishing winners and losers. It involves speaking the truth in love and creating space for people to work through conflict. Kindness requires honesty and integrity.
I believe we are called to practice kindness in our marriages and families, in our workplace and schools… because ultimately, it is our kindness that defines and shapes our humanity. Not “random acts of kindness”, but kindness that wells up from our souls because that is who we long to be. These stories need not be momentary glitches in the psyche of humanity, or exemplary illustrations of the best of the best, but stories that reflect our core.
Kindness is not unique to Christianity, however when it is absent in my faith it is like a resounding gong or clanging symbol and there’s enough of that sort of noise in the world.
My prayers for us as we attempt to emerge from this pandemic is to learn again (for the first time?) what it means to be kind.
May we create spaces that are dusted with sugar.