As we move though the busyness of another chaotic week – a week filled with whiny kids and last minute trips to the grocery store, angry clients and demanding bosses, harassing doubts and endless questions – it is important to step back, take a deep breath, and remember that sometimes the answer is really quite simple.
The answer can be kindness. As simple and difficult as that may be.
I read this poem to our church congregation a few weeks ago when I led worship services, and I love it so much that I want to share it with you all. Yes, we lose things and, yes, there is sorrow. But always, everywhere, there is kindness. If we so choose it.
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the
Indian in a white poncho lies dead
by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone who journeyed through the night
with plans and the simple breath
that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness
as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness
that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
How are you going to choose kindness today?