Kindness never goes out of style! It is just as important to show kindness now as it was hundreds, even thousands of years ago. Two thousand years ago, this message was given to the early church:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.Ephesians 4:32
It does not sound too different from the message given to us on a daily basis from Dr. Bonnie Henry, public health officer of British Columbia: “Be kind, be calm, and be safe.”
Many people are very uptight and nervous these days. They fear for their health, or the health of those they care for. Others are getting bored, or tired of being isolated, evidenced by less patience and more anger.
In this climate, the message “Be kind” is necessary advice. Be patient with each other, find ways to show kindness in tangible ways, and smile a little. You never know the difference it will make in another person’s life – even if that person is you!
The other day I sat and watched as City of Nanaimo workers and the RCMP confronted a man who had set up camp behind the church. As I watched him pile his valuables into two shopping carts, I felt rather helpless. What can a person do for a man who lives on the street and moves constantly to find a safe place to rest? I was upset that he chose to camp on our property, but also uncertain how to deal with his issues.
The next day I looked out my window and there was the same man, once again relocating his buggies laden with stuff. He moved one cart to the street. Then he started to load his second cart with bottles and cans he had collected, a mountain of tin and glass in plastic bags. As he struggled to load the cart, it hit me: Be kind.
So I offered to transport him and his collection to the bottle depot. He was shocked – but thrilled. We loaded my car and chatted. I learned his name – and he learned mine. I found out he had been on the street for five years, since his father died. He was only thirty-two. He wanted off the streets but knew he had to change his ways. Addiction had taken control. He was trying to get free.
As we parted ways he gave me a broken-toothed smile and a handshake. That day I knew distancing was less important than his need to be accepted. We shook hands and said goodbye. I was able to show a little kindness to my homeless neighbour.
He was supposed to be the recipient of my kindness, but I finished the day wondering why I felt so good! I guess kindness is just like that: the more you give away the better you feel. I will look for more ways to be kind. How about you?
– Pastor Gary