I’ve been in a funk, lately. The state of our troubled nation and the world’s turmoil were getting to me. It was either lighten up or drive myself crazy. I went on line looking for hope or some vision of kindness to lighten my troubled spirit. I hit the jackpot. I found a site called “Kindness Blog.”
“Kindness Blog’s team,” the site stated, “ share media featuring kindness in all its varied forms. From the simplest acts of charity to grand life-changing gestures of kindness.”
For starters there were forty-five heartwarming stories, each accompanied by a photographic image. I read about half of the stories. There had to be thousands more. There is indeed goodness out there and plenty of it. With all the madness going on in my world, I had forgotten that it’s there.
As I read, I felt lighter.
The blog’s stories are inspirational vignettes rather than morality tales. I find the stories hopeful and more authentic for that reason. No one is trying to prove anything. The contributors are simply sharing an ancient truth in a modern world where it’s still a hard sell: it is better to give than to receive. In the giving there’s a lot of getting, but that’s not the prime motivator as I saw it. It seemed to me as if a feeling of gratitude was the driving force to their actions. As it is with all grateful people, they wanted to share their own sense of being blessed with others. Gratitude inspires generosity, a desire to give back.
One woman in London, the blog reported, writes anonymous letters. She leaves them for strangers to find. The letters are a gentle reminder to the stranger of their essential goodness and that it’s OK to have faults and not be perfect. She writes that how in sharing our vulnerabilities we learn to love on another. She leaves no name or address. It’s enough for her that the letters are found. She’s sent one hundred fifty letters to date.
One writer, Gina Ryder, discovered ways to feed her soul. She says, “The general hopelessness about relationships and life I previously felt was like a sickness in my soul. Daily random acts of kindness are a remedy.”
Another woman sparked a beautiful chain reaction of good will; she picked up the next person’s tab at a McDonald’s drive through. Some 250 cars followed suit.
An African-American minister, Shun Abram, confronted a KKK protester calmly, strongly, and peacefully.
In Pakistan, Muslims form a human chain to protect Christians during a mass.
One image showed a small child in a white KKK robe with the characteristic cone shaped hat. She stands directly in front of a policeman in riot gear. She is placing her hand on one officer’s shield the way curious children idly poke at things they’ve never seen before. Even in the midst of our ugly world affairs, there are moments of pure innocence and tenderness. I found that image particularly moving as I could see both the KKK child and the riot police were not” bad.” Both were victims enmeshed in a larger systemic trap, like moths in a spider web.
The stories of generosity of spirit and tenderness go on and on.
A few who acted with kindness were well heeled. One man committed himself to give a thousand dollars for the rest of his life to those able to make changes for the better in the world. He’s spent millions over several years. Most, however, seem like ordinary folk who felt moved to tell the world that they have discovered something life-giving in performing acts of kindness.
While writing this essay, I saw this on Facebook. An African-American woman wrote it:
“I noticed a State Trooper on the side of the road with his trunk up. I never saw him, just the car. I pulled up to the car and cracked my window, hands clearly visible. I saw a white trooper come from the side of the car. I said good morning and asked if he was okay and needed help. He smiled and replied no ma’am that he was cleaning his windows. He showed the bottle and towels to me and I told him he had the good stuff. He chuckled and asked if I minded if he cleaned mine too. Then an elderly white couple stopped by and asked if they could have theirs done also. He cleaned theirs, too. The lady offered to pay him and he said no, just say a prayer for me…so we did. Right along Rt. 46 in the wee hours of the morning parked beside the road for EVERYONE to see, we all linked hands and had prayer. White hands, black hands, officer hands, young hands, and old hands…gave glory like never before. Couldn’t ask for a better way to start my day.”
If I was skeptical about the existence of angels before, I’m a believer now.
Been touched by an angel recently? Tell us about it!
Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.