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A Simple Act of Kindness

The other day I was feeling downhearted about a number of things—including the illness of loved ones and the acts of horrific bigotry and violence in our country. I decided to go outside for some fresh air. Actually I didn’t feel much like going outside, but I knew that wallowing in my discouragement was not helpful.

As I returned from my brief walk, a tall, thin man wearing a baseball cap was coming down the steps of our house. Perhaps he was making a retreat or was with a group meeting here. Neither of us spoke, but he smiled and took off his hat as we passed.

That’s all. A simple act of kindness and courtesy. But what a difference it made to my spirit—especially, for some reason, the lifting of his hat.

A simple act of kindness, especially on a difficult day, can feel like the touch of God—and perhaps it is indeed that. After all, our human kindness, I believe, has its source in the divine kindness. The wellspring of all our human goodness is the love and good will of God toward us.

“We love because [God] first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

We often don’t know the effect kindness can have on others. This may be particularly true when we show kindness when it has not been shown to us. But if we pay attention to the effect a simple act can have on us, we may be more inclined to show kindness ourselves. And if we take notice of the small kindnesses bestowed on us when we least expect them, we may also become more aware of Goodness at the heart of creation.

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift,
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17)

For several examples  of kindness bestowed during my years at the Cenacle in Gainesville, Florida, see:  "Random Acts of Kindness"

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