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.
I walk in to the by-now-familiar room to register for next year’s community garden plot and there is a woman sitting across the table talking with the coordinator. Not wanting to interrupt, I sit down at the far end of the table and begin filling out the paperwork.
I am not intentionally eavesdropping—it’s the tone of the woman’s voice that catches my attention—but I manage to glean the gist of the mostly one-sided conversation.
When I finish filling out my paperwork, I wait while the woman continues to make sure her voice is heard, and finally rises and spits out “Thank you” as she leaves the room.
I move to sit across from the overwhelmed garden coordinator. She smiles, and it’s one of those expressions in which there is both relief and exasperation behind the upturned lips.
”Deep cleansing breath,” I suggest and we laugh together. She pauses, takes that transitional breath, and we move on to speak of more pleasant things while completing the registration.
The receptionist, from the outer room, pokes her head in the door.
“Where is that woman getting a plot?” she asks.
”Oh good. Because she said something not very nice on the way out the door.”
The coordinator just shakes her head, and we continue to chat about the gardening season, the rash of theft and how every year one of the community gardens seems to get hit hardest, and agree that the minor irritants don’t take away from the joy the garden gives.
When we’re finished, I go to the other room to pay for my garden plot, and find the receptionist huddled with another woman on a bench. There are tears in her eyes.
“Are you okay,” I can’t help ask as she comes to take my payment.
She smiles and nods at me through her tears. “It’s just kids.”
I take note of her age and judge that she likely has teenagers. I remember well those kinds of tears. I shed oceans of them. I put my hand on her shoulder, in mother-to-mother support. There’s nothing I can do to resolve whatever situation has brought her tears, but a bit of empathy doesn’t hurt.
She is still on my mind as I climb into my car. I’d like to tell her it will get better, and probably it will but maybe not for a while. The reality is that at the moment of conception our hearts begin walking vulnerable outside of our body, and vulnerability hurts.
Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Two women, in the space of a few minutes, struggling in some measure as a result of the actions of another. I think how little it takes to be intentionally kind to someone. We’re all carrying burdens of varying weights; lightening the load of another lightens our own too. I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to understand this.
I make a couple more stops on the way home and, with intention, make extra effort to be kind to everyone I come into contact with. I am not changing the world, but maybe I am changing a moment for someone who is having a challenging day and whole lot of that has the potential to change the world.
Lord, help me to remember this every day.
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This morning I come across a post I wrote one year ago when my thoughts were also about the harshness with which we treat one another. https://lindahoye.com/tuesday-september-26-2017/
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My firstborn, the daughter with whom my heart has been walking around outside my body for forty years, is writing raw about her journey out of what she calls “the rabbit hole” with a goal of reaching back to help others who struggle. http://laurindasseaonsoflife.blogspot.com