Maybe it’s that I’m looking older (which I am) or that I’m short (that too) or that it is Christmas time, but I had some notable gestures of quiet kindness recently that left me pondering. The first was at the post office. I felt lucky to get a parking place and was hopeful that the kiosk line would be short. As I stepped out with 5 large boxes, a young gentleman stopped and offered to help. I suspect he couldn’t see my head over the stack of boxes. At first I declined the offer, certain I could do it myself. He smiled and lifted the boxes from my arms. I held the door. Then off he went. The next day after unloading my groceries into my car, another young man (I must remind them of their Grandmothers) came over and offered to return my cart. I let him and gave a grateful smile.
Those are only 2 of the many acts of kindness that I’ve experienced of late and have also observed. Neighbors offered meals to a family caring for their son who is ill and then give gifts and treats to the hospital staff where their son has spent many days. Youth gathered at McCormick Home to play bingo with the residents and then decided to go each month not just at Christmas. An email goes out to Helping Hands for a ride or a meal and within the hour, the need is filled. With all the tragic acts of violence and the fear that has followed, seeing efforts of thoughtfulness plants seeds of hope and of peace- one person at a time.
I’m reminded of a story about a king who sent his armies out to destroy the enemy. When the king went out to check on the progress of his armies, he found them all celebrating with the enemies. They were talking to each other, dancing, eating and drinking and having a good time. The King said to his army, “What is going on? I thought I told you to destroy the enemy.” They replied, “We did, your majesty, we made them our friends.”
We are called to offer mercy as well as to receive it, to create bonds of peace not hatred. So maybe now is the time to welcome a “black sheep” of the family back in to the flock, like the good shepherd. The irritating neighbor might just need a smile on occasion to help him believe in goodness again. Advocating for prison reform, right to life, fair housing, immigration pathways are just a few ways to create friendships that can be lasting. Spend some time visiting with a person from a different faith tradition and learn about their faith. Change the world one person at a time. Isn’t that how the world will really change so God’s kingdom of peace and justice can come here on earth? Peace to all God’s children, near and far, and to you, my dear friends,
Happy New Year!
Sheila DeLuca, Pastoral Associate