Good evening, my friend.
The day is nearing it's end. My children have completed their laborious required reading, threatened chicken hawks from our trees with hockey sticks to protect our vulnerable and beloved bevy of feathered fowl, the husband as poured me a glass of "spicy" grape juice and I have decided to cement a particularly profound moment of my day on here, just to further cement it to my memory. Because it's important.
Before I share, allow me to make this one thing clear to those that don't know me: I think my children are pretty spectacular, but I also know they are very human, with birthmarks of selfishness and pride that show themselves quite easily, just like they do on their mama. There are, however, moments in which a young child's simple faith cuts through the crusty complexities of the adult psyche. Perhaps this is why Jesus kept children close by and pointed out the value of us doing the same.
This morning, in the mad dash that is the getting-ready-for-school, my seven year old front-toothless boy came and asked me for envelope. I grabbed one without thinking, while I stuffed stale pretzels into a baggies for a snack. He asked me to write "To: Eloise" on the front. I looked through 200 pointless pencils in the pen jar to locate the only ballpoint pen we have in the house. I wrote as he requested and mentioned I didn't know there was an Eloise in this class. He said he wanted to give her something. And then the dog barked, the twins fought over Percy on his track and the daughter said she couldn't find one single toothbrush (to which I replied, they are probably having a party somewhere with all the missing ballpoint pens).
After the mad rush, a quieter house ensued. Weighty drafts of current events blew in heavy musings throughout my day. I considered the disparity of perspectives in our nation and the disturbing ease of which we can feel polarized from each other. It was hard to pinpoint my thoughts on the fractured national mood, but it was not hard to know it was weighing me down. There are so many, many, many issues for which compromise seems impossible. As an adult who desires to be clear-thinking, it is hard to fairly weigh and work through all that is happening. Where does one even begin, then, in the raising of children for which this present day of divide and disparity is their only point of reference?
The answer was delivered in the already raggedy take-home folder in my son's backpack.
There, amidst the take home papers his heartless mother silently slips into the trash, was this little gem:
He had given her a bracelet (the current why-didn't-I-think-of-this-craze rubber band chain sort), woven on his homemade loom in the "intricate" fishtail design. Apparently she had made mention of how much she liked his colorful links yesterday and he quietly took note. She returned the kindness with the note she took time to write (and star!). Just two little humans who might grow up to be very different, making the other feel special just because they exis.
This eight-letter word is what the One who created me and all of mankind was whispering to me as I read the misspelled words that came from a little first-grade hand, to which kindness had been delivered in a plain white envelope.
Kindness is not always rewarded with gratitude, but this is when we must not confuse for extending kindness with extending a favor. Kindness is called for regardless of response. It benefits the recipient, but it also grows the giver. Practicing it is a vital link to the reality that is unseen for the one who does so. The more we condition ourselves to extend it, the more we grow into people who get glimpses of a bigger picture and feel as though we are participants in something that has the best chance to cut through the divisive boundaries of party line, theology and heated rhetoric. Kindness alone does not solve what ails this world, but it can serve as salve to the hurt that seeps from them.
I took the note written on paper ripped from a notebook and I treated it like parchment from the Red Sea. It is now framed and sits were we can all see it and be reminded
that for that needs fixed in this dark world, there's that little thing called kindness that can cast a considerable amount of light into the lives we brush by every day.