When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. ~Abraham Joshua Heschel
Sometimes someone says something really small, and it just fits right into this empty place in your heart. ~From the television show “My So-Called Life”
As long-time readers of my blog know, I am immensely proud of my children and their accomplishments and have bragged shamelessly on them from time to time. But there’s something else about them that I’m far prouder of, because I believe that there is no attribute more important.
And that attribute is kindness. I am so proud that they are kind. I am thankful that they are tender-hearted.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. ~George Washington Carver
Instead of expounding on kindness, I think I’d rather tell you about one of the earliest acts I can remember of kindness shown to me. I was only about six at the time, but I’ll never forget it. It seems such a small thing, but its effect on me at that time was profound. And then, I’d love it if you’d comment about an act of kindness YOU remember, something that perhaps “fit right into this empty place in your heart.”
When I was six, one of our distant relatives who was a piano teacher offered to give my brother and me piano lessons in exchange for him mowing her yard. I believe that she was a good person at heart, but she was rather short-tempered. I think perhaps she wasn’t meant to teach children. When I didn’t practice enough and made mistakes, she would begin a tirade that started with yelling and ended with her grabbing her cat, dropping him on the keyboard (whereupon he’d do a dissonant dance across the keys then leap with a yowl out of the room). She’d then yell, “That cat can play better than you!”
I’d usually hold in my tears until I could escape into the yard as I waited for Mama to pick me up. One day, after the teacher had a particularly awful outburst, I ran into the yard as usual. It was pouring rain, but I stood out there anyway, sobbing in the cold rain and shivering as it soaked my hair and clothes.
Suddenly I felt a hand touch my shoulder and heard the snap of an umbrella being opened. I looked up to see Bascombe, my teacher’s husband, who was as gentle as she was caustic. He never said much, but always seemed such a kind presence. And now he was standing beside me, still saying nothing, but holding the umbrella over me to keep me dry. There he stood for a very long time, getting more and more soaked himself, but quietly making sure a little girl was sheltered as she cried her heart out in the rain. He never said a word. He didn’t have to.
What small acts of kindness have you always remembered?
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia