Sunday, May 7, 2017

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ― Plato

                            A little kindness goes a long way.  One of my favorite quotes, besides the one above, is one from the author, Henry James, who wrote, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”  One of my favorite television shows is a British sort-of quiz show, and the host ends every show with the words, “Be kind to one another.”  It is hard, in this world, to be kind as we are taught to hate all those with whom we disagree be it Democrats or Republicans, Methodists or Baptists, Christians or Muslims, or just about anybody who is different from us.  I’ve written before about the small church I served as a part-time pastor that wanted me to go out, evangelize, and bring in more people.  Naive as I was, I thought they really meant it when what they really wanted was a bigger financial base so that they themselves wouldn’t have to give so much to keep the church going.  I tripled the membership but was let go because the people I brought in were Hispanic and/or poor.  The chair of the Administrative Board actually told me in an open meeting, “We don’t mind new people as long as they are just like us.”  Me, I like new people.  I like to meet new people.  When we have guests here who speak English, I always talk too much because I am so excited to have new folks with whom to have conversations in my own language.  I also tend to like new people until they give me a reason not to like them any more and while that does happen, it doesn’t happen very often.  I would rather get hurt from time to time than to become a bitter, hating person who demands that others do what I want them to do.  Too often, we get really upset or hurt and therefore get angry before we know all the facts or understand why the other person acted as they did.  Living in another culture makes that happen even more often, and I have had to apologize many times, but I have always apologized.  Often, my anger comes from not understanding the culture or because of the language differences.  The fact that there are over 100 tribes here, each with its own culture doesn’t help.  When we are out driving, I smile and wave at almost everybody.  Once, an American visitor, asked why I was so friendly to people I didn’t know.  I replied, “I don’t know where or when this car might break down or I might need help, but I think it would be more likely to come from people to whom I have just smiled and waved than otherwise.”  I can only imagine how many times Christ was disappointed or hurt by those He befriended and loved, but I know it was many, many times—and yet still He loved and loved beyond measure.  So, every morning and evening when we sit out on the back porch, we smile and wave to all those who pass by and shout greetings and blessings to them.  Most of the time they are not smiling, but break into big smiles as soon as we wave or speak.  Now is the time to be kind, not tomorrow, not next week—this is not something to set as a goal, it is something to do immediately.  Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”  I don’t have many regrets, but I regret that there are many I will never see again to whom I was never kind.  I ask their forgiveness and pray that I will become the kind of kind person that they will forgive and remember kindly.  Our life here is too short to be otherwise.  I will end this today with something someone else wrote, Steve Marboli, who wrote:  “One of the most spiritual things you can do is embrace your humanity. Connect with those around you today. Say, 'I love you', 'I'm sorry', 'I appreciate you', 'I'm proud of you'...whatever you're feeling. Send random texts, write a cute note, embrace your truth and share it...cause a smile today for someone else...and give plenty of hugs.”
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