Paen: A fervent expression of joy or praise
Do we speak enough about kindness? Do we value it sufficiently in all that it adds to our lives?
It’s not one of the big, bold characteristics, like courage or anger or passion. It’s humbler, it’s quieter. It’s the person making casseroles for the ill, hungry or homeless. It’s the friend who loans you her car when you’re desperate to get your son to a medical treatment (Sharon Bauer!!!). It’s the person who brings you soup (Daemon Jones!!!). It’s the neighbor who mows your grass strip next to the sidewalk (Scott Ressler!!!). It’s the son who notices you don’t feel well and makes you breakfast (Arran Cooper!!!).
In this crazy, chaotic time, let’s take a moment to savor and appreciate how very much kindness adds to the quality of our lives.
We call it “the milk of human kindness,” sweet and sustaining like mother’s milk. It leaves the most delicious taste (so to speak) in our minds and memories, doesn’t it? It’s the one soft, intangible yet utterly important thing that resonates in our hearts without any shadows impinging, any doubt. It gives us pause, and quite naturally we stop what we are doing to savor unexpected acts of grace and kindness, whether right before us or in the news. It may be humble, but kindness is powerful!
Maybe it’s the antidote to chaos and hatred.
Maybe this one small, quiet, strong thing could help build the world we want to have.
My son Dylan and I were in Durham, NC last week for an evaluation at Duke University Hospital. As I mentioned previously in my post When I felt like a scooped out avocado…, Dylan is recovering from a traumatic brain injury he sustained 2 ½ years ago. We were at Duke for Dylan to be evaluated and possibly treated for a spinal fluid issue. And we felt bathed in kindness.
Our friends Sharon and Jim gifted us our hotel room (praise Marriott points!). Deidre in the pre-approval department at Duke advocated tirelessly and successfully to get Dylan’s treatment covered by his out of state Medicaid insurance! A veritable miracle. Every person we met in North Carolina greeted us with smiles, warmth, and graciousness. After our first day, Dylan commented, “Everyone we’ve met is SO nice!” So true.
For a long time, my beloved colleagues in Jo Cooper Studio Anh Nguyen, Ian Cooper and Anne Scholle, have had my back and made juggling my business and care for Dylan smooth as silk. My dharma teachers and buddies and dear friends, and Dylan’s besties, have showered us in support (and laughter!). I feel each person’s love and strength added to ours, magnifying our capacity. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are beyond grateful.
Deidre said to me, “The insurance was approved because you’re so nice. Good things happen to good people.” I replied, “I was just going to say it was because you’re so nice! I know you made a connection with the person on the other end of the line, and that’s what inspired success for us.” And it’s true. We pass on the kindness we transmit to each other, and it is amplified. How beautiful is that?
And powerful! The novel (and movie) Pay It Forward espouses doing something nice for 3 people. Rather than asking for anything for yourself in return, ask them to do something nice for 3 other people… and so on and on. The impact spreads surprisingly far and wide.
This reminds me of the gorgeous illustrated children’s book One Grain of Rice: A mathematical folktale by Demi, in which a clever village girl outwits a selfish raja by requesting a reward of one grain of rice doubled each day for a good deed she accomplished. The math is mind boggling! Likewise might the kindness we each share be magnified.
It may be humble, but kindness might just take over the world.