Small Kindnesses

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

I am a creature of habit. Don’t get me wrong – I like to change things up, but as for my daily schedule, it always begins the same. I wake early, enjoy my first cup of coffee while I take the time for reflection and prayer. Then, I plan my day and put in my Air Pods and head out for a walk just before sunrise. The daily walk part is new for me – it started with COVID. I have a regular 3-mile loop throughout my neighborhood, and I am not alone. One day I decided to introduce myself to some of the people I was meeting each morning. There was one man with whom I felt a connection. He was taking short labored steps with a walker, followed closely by a home health aide. We greeted each other, exchanged names and hellos that first day, and good mornings every day after. Then, I noticed he was walking without his aide, and I commented on it. He told me he was recovering from a hip replacement and with a chuckle said – “I’m finally out of prison.” Every day I stopped to encourage his progress and I think we both looked forward to seeing each other’s kind smiles to open our day. I was missing for a few weeks as I took time to care for my mother in California. When I got back, he noted my absence, and I shared what had been happening, and he said he had missed seeing me. Then, he was missing and when I saw him next, he told me he had been back in the hospital but was feeling better. I shared that my mother had passed away after her long illness and he offered genuine empathy.

Kindness is a scarce commodity in these times – and even in biblical times. The apostle Paul recognized that and appealed to the church in Ephesus to model kindness. Somehow, this stranger had become a kind morning beacon for me. The small kindnesses we shared have boosted my spirits, and I hope that they are boosting his as well. I cannot change everything that is wrong with our world, but I can choose to be kind. Or, in the words, often attributed to Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in this world.”

I want to say thank you to my college roommate with whom I recently talked and said, “You know, there is no other you. There’s no one else I with whom I could have shared that.” I want to thank my three-year-old granddaughter for making me a card and my eight-year-old granddaughter for unanticipated FaceTime visits that brighten our day. I want to thank the Green Justice Team and the Justice Committee for the time and energy they give to making our world better. They inspire me. I want to thank my clergy colleagues for all the ways they have given of themselves to the church and to me—and for the fun we have together.

Thank God for all your blessings. Then remember to say thank you directly to all the people through whom God has worked in your life—to comfort and sustain you, to nurture and inspire you, to embrace you with love and hope and peace that passes all understanding—and can only come from God.

Prayer Focus: That we might offer small kindnesses to others each day.

Prayer: Comforting God, be near to all whose names we whisper now. Expand our hearts to embrace other’s burdens that we might offer kindness to those who worry and soothing words to those who are in pain. Awaken our spirits to the ones who are adept at hiding their burdens so that we might walk beside them, simply offering the gift of presence. Expand our capacity for kindness that you might create in us sanctuaries of grace that welcome the poor in spirit, in the ways of Jesus.