How do you learn to be kind? Well, you can read a book with “Kindness” in the title. You can listen to a spiritual teacher talk about it. But I think the best is watching the people who show up in your life and catching them in the act.
On Thursday night, my friend Adele and I went to hear The Messiah at a lovely church in St. Thomas, Ontario. At the intermission, we both had to pee. Adele uses a walker and when we got to the washrooms, there was a lineup of about twelve women. “Oh no!” I said inside my head. Suddenly the woman at the front of the line came up to Adele and with a sweet smile told her she could go first. Her smile was returned by both of us. And the kindness continued. Adele graciously said yes, allowing the woman to feel the full impact of her generosity.
Yesterday, I was at a Christmas carol sing at a London church. At the end, a father came walking down the aisle holding his newborn child, “wrapped in swaddling clothes”. He approached a young family across from me. They brightened to see the child. A girl, perhaps eight, stood up, approached the baby, and gave him or her a kiss on the cheek. It didn’t matter to me whether the two were siblings or not. Love is love.
Last night, my friend Renato and I were at a pub in London. A classic yellow brick home from the nineteenth century, I’d guess. The hostess ushered us into our own room, with a big window facing the street, and a gas fireplace only a few feet away. But the music was a bit too loud for comfortable talking. I asked the woman if she’d be willing to turn it down. She smiled and said yes, adding that she’d have to turn it up again if other guests came into the room. Twenty minutes later, here came those other guests. But the hostess never turned the music back on. Such a simple thing to do, but also a kind thing. Renato and I got to hear each other as we each talked about our lives and enjoyed hearing about the companion’s.
I’m a kind person but I have no interest in searching for moments of the past few days to show that. Other citizens of this planet show us all we need to know.