What does it really mean to be kind? When we experience kindness, what does it feel like? Have there been times when we experienced help without kindness, or perhaps been the one who helped but not in a kind way? Does kindness imply an extraordinary act, or can kindness be imparted in our everyday mundane activities?
These are some of the questions I asked myself when contemplating this quote by Mark Twain, and the diverse ways I have seen kindness portrayed during this pandemic. As a blind person I do have a unique perspective in that I am not swayed by body language, facial expressions, or the physical appearance of those with whom I interact. While I do perceive the tone in someone’s voice, mostly I feel the loving intent in their hearts. If I could see, maybe I would see the smile on their face as well.
I believe it would certainly seem, then, that kindness starts from within. What is it that we must have in ourselves to radiate this kindness? If we have a desire to practice kindness, what must we have to make that happen? I am going to vote for a grateful heart. A grateful heart is a joyful heart, and joyful hearts radiate kindness.
During the past several weeks as we have all been impacted by the virus, I have made a point of looking up and reading short stories or acts of kindness that may be small and simple, but at the same time profound. These are things that inspire me to be more kind, more intentional, and reminds me that the little things really do matter. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Our country, our world, and life as we know, it might seem unsettling right now as this virus sweeps the globe. One thing I know for sure though, Mark Twain had it correct with the universal language we all have in common.
The Man at the Market
“When the supermarket clerk tallied up my groceries, I was $12 over what I had on me. I began to remove items from the bags, when another shopper handed me a $20 bill. “Please don’t put yourself out,” I told him. “Let me tell you a story,” he said. “My mother is in the hospital with cancer. I visit her every day and bring her flowers. I went this morning, and she got mad at me for spending my money on more flowers. She demanded that I do something else with that money. So, here, please accept this. It is my mother’s flowers.” – Leslie Wagner, Peel, Arkansas.
Jim and the Job
“My neighbor, Jim, had trouble deciding if he wanted to retire from the construction field, until he ran into a younger man he’d worked with previously. The young man had a wife and three children and was finding it difficult to make ends meet, since he hadn’t worked in some time. The next morning, Jim went to the union office and submitted his retirement paperwork. As for his replacement, he gave them the name of the young man. That was six years ago, and that young husband and father has been employed ever since.” – Miranda MacLean, Brutus, Michigan.
A Family’s Food Angel
“While going through a divorce, my mother fretted over her new worries: no income, the same bills, and no way to afford groceries. It was around this time that she started finding boxes of food outside our door every morning. This went on for months, until she was able to land a job. We never did find out who it was who left the groceries for us, but they truly saved our lives.” – Jamie Boleyn, Emmett, Idaho.
My friends, even in the midst of this pandemic and the struggles and challenges, we all have much to be grateful for. These three stories are examples and reminders of how simple acts of kindness can go a very long way. I challenge you to focus on gratitude each day and you will see the joy in your life increase. Most likely you will also find it much easier and more natural to practice kindness. The power of one person being kind will spread like a ripple on the water to places you will never know. A kinder world, pandemic or not, really does start with each one of us, and as we practice kindness in our own corner of the world, only the best is yet to come!!