BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
There was a huge billboard greeting drivers as they turned off the main road into a little town. It read: CHOOSE KINDNESS TODAY!! In smaller letters below it said: Every kindness Matters!
Kindness is a virtue felt rather than defined. Its home is in the heart rather than in the intellect. The power of kindness impacts our individual lives and the lives of others. We have some well-known people who would support this little town because they, too, believed and instructed us on the practice of kindness. Desmond Tutu suggested that if every one of us would “do just a little bit of good, that effort would overwhelm the world.” You might agree with the words of a Professor of Environment, David Orr, who published an article stating his belief that our planet needs more than successful people. He wrote that it needs peacemakers, restorers, givers, healers. Obviously, it needs people of much courage, willing to go out of their way to make the world more human. He believes that the world is wired for kindness and we just need to follow the directions. Mother Teresa is quoted as having said,”People can be unreasonable and self-centered; forgive them any- way! If you are kind to others in spite of what they do, they may accuse you of being selfish with ulterior motives; be kind anyway!”
Jesus told us to “Love your neighbor.” But love can be a huge challenge and so often we question ourselves as to how to personally carry out Jesus’ instruction. Perhaps not many of us will have opportunities to do heroic acts of love for others, but what about a word of thanks, a greeting on the street, a nod of approval to an anxious child or a smile? Maybe we should think of kindness as those smaller acts that we can get our arms around. There’s scarcely an hour of the day that does not give us opportunities to perform little, perhaps unnoticed, deeds of kindness. And yet, these small acts of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Perhaps a little exaggeration, but someone proposed that perhaps in the first century the early Christians were so kind that many people did not know whether their title should be “followers of Christ” or “followers of kindness.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were recognized today for being a “follower of kindness?”
One of the reasons we love our church, in spite of all its imperfections, is that it offers an environment for teaching kindness, shaping each of us into the type of people that God wants us to be and that this world so desperately needs. Here, as church, we are steeped in the teaching that God is a kind God, patient and forgiving, As church we hear again and again the words of Scripture that shape our attitudes and actions to be those of kindness. From Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Be kind to one another.” From Colossians:”Clothe yourselves with kindness.” From 1Corinthian: “Love is kind.” And from Micah: “What does the Lord require of you, but to practice justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God?”
The longer we live, the more we can be convinced that kindness is what keeps this world turning round. It isn’t the bold initiatives and grand strategies that necessarily make the greatest difference. Though big, splashy things may dominate the evening news, all the while life is being sustained and carried forward by little kindnesses. And these kindnesses have a ripple effect, spreading out in ways we know and ways we can never know. In a sense we are creating a great spider web with the lives we touch, for our kindnesses will touch another life, and they in turn will touch another, until who knows where the rippling stops or in what far-off place our touch will be felt.
And, then, there’s another side to kindness-kindness offered to us. We find our days composed of a series of activities wherein we are always on the run. As a result we are forced to pay attention to the countless things we need to do, our calendars, to the breaking news on TV or the constant phone and text messages that bombard us. When was the last time you stopped to notice someone’s kindness to you? Really made the choice to stop and notice the kind deeds performed around you and for you? Just as we can choose to offer kindness, so we can choose to be aware when someone is offering us kindness. We are to be givers of kindness and receivers of kindness. Give both a genuine try!
Let’s imagine that every billboard in every city and town flashed the message that reminded us of what really matters in our lives. Every kindness matters and so we “Choose Kindness Today!”
Sister Lauretta Leipzig