By Barb Arland-Fye
A Facebook friend posted a serene image of a snow-covered countryside with this quote as the backdrop: “Kindness is like snow — it beautifies everything it covers.” — Kahlil Gibran
No explanation accompanied the post, but it speaks for itself in the wake of the massacre at a high school in Florida last week and the caustic political environment in which we are embedded.
As I continued browsing Facebook entries, I found this Lenten reflection posted by the Sisters of Mercy: “… Now is the acceptable time, O Lord. Give us the courage to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with you. This we ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
These posts impacted my Lenten journey, causing me to reflect on the meaning of kindness and to strive to choose to act with kindness toward others. Kindness in and of itself won’t end school shootings, other acts of violence or animosity toward those with whom we disagree. We do need to address the root causes of the violence plaguing our country, as well as lesser conflicts and develop positive solutions to effect change. But imagine what our world would be like if each of us, consciously, deliberately, chose kindness as the default in our interactions with others.
I did a Google search on the word kindness and found a myriad of definitions: friendly, generous and considerate, the quality of being gentle, caring and helpful. Kindness is also one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit; plenty of references to kindness and its attributes appear in Scripture.
In First Corinthians 13:4b, Paul speaks of kindness as being interchangeable with love. “Love is patient, love is kind….” And love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.” We should do no less in our interactions with family, friends, colleagues and even strangers.
Micah 6:8 instructs us: “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Luke 6:35-36 advises: “… love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful.”
Tonight my husband Steve and our younger son Patrick and I grew impatient with my older son, Colin, who seemed inattentive to our requests to prepare for dinner, perhaps caught up in his autistic mindset. A nudge from God reminded me of my decision to choose to act with kindness. At the same time, a quote from a story I wrote about widowers whose wives had suffered memory loss came to mind: “It’s a lot more work to be kind than to be correct.” I repeated that quote to my family.
Kindness is not an easy virtue to master, but I do believe the effort to do so will make a difference at home, at church, at work and in the community at large. Kindness, like snow, as Kahlil Gibran said, “does beautify everything it covers.”
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)