Kindness Matters

What does it mean to be kind?

Joan Chittister writes in An Illuminated Life, “The most telling measure of the meaning of kindness in life is memories of unkindness in our own: scenes from a childhood marked by the cruelty of other children, recollections of disdain that scarred the heart, moments of scorn or rejection that leave a person feeling marginalized in the human community. In those moments of isolation we remember the impact of the fracturing of hope. We feel again the pain that comes with the assault on that sliver of dignity that refuses to die in us, however much the degradation of the momen.t It is then that we come to understand that kindness, compassion, understanding, acceptance is the irrefutable mark of holiness because we ourselves have known – or perhaps have never known – the balm of kindness for which we so desperately thirsted in those situations. Kindness is an act of God that makes the dry dust of rejection digestible to the human psyche.”

It seems to me that what Chittister is sharing with us, is that kindness is rooted in empathy. We are kind (which isn’t necessarily the same thing as being nice) when we remember what it feels like to have been on the receiving end of an unkind act. When we are at our lowest, it is kindness that brings healing.

Kindness is mercy and grace. Kindness is listening so that the other person feels heard. Kindness is love shared when it’s needed most. Kindness is putting another first, while not discounting ourselves. Kindness is welcoming. Kindness is true. Kindness is remembering that hope still lives in a person – Jesus.

We don’t hear a lot about kindness in the news. The news is all about being loud and big. Kindness like empathy, compassion, gentleness, humility, patience, self-control, generosity, joy, peace, faithfulness doesn’t seem to be headline material in our world today.

But I believe that acts of kindness are happening everywhere. Even by us.

We’ll be looking for you tomorrow at 9:00 or 10:30 am as we gather to worship and praise our God who gives us the gifts of the Spirit.

Grace be with you,


Chittister, Joan, An Illuminated Life, © 2000 by Orbis Books, page 72

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