Week 29 – Kindness

Week 29 – 08 April 2012

So just when you think you have lost everything – your past, your future, the spring in your step, the reason for getting up in the morning, trust, love, and hope …… some total stranger restores your faith in humanity.

Having a completely glum day and generally doing nothing, I thought I should at least feed myself. I went down to the supermarket and, with a complete vacuum where my brain used to be, I forgot my wallet. As I was fumbling about and scrounging at the bottom of my bag trying to find enough coins to buy my few vegetables for a soup, a man – a total stranger to me – dropped some coins on the counter and walked away. I tried to protest and he just said ‘enjoy your soup’ and was gone in a flash. Gone – my knight in shining armour who touched my heart that day in a way that he will never ever know.

A door is opened for me, a motorist waves me on in a traffic jam, a bus driver takes the time to have a chat to me, fellow bloggers offer me words of encouragement and a reason to keep going. And so it is that these small acts of kindness mean so much and begin to nourish my soul.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

14 thoughts on “Week 29 – Kindness

  1. Wow, that’s awesome! That’s truly inspiring!

    We had a similar experience with my son’s glasses – twice, and both times around Christmas time, if I remember correctly.

    We went in to get a new pair for him and then, some days later, the call came to say they were ready. My wife asked how much we owed and the lady said, nothing, they’ve been paid for already.

    Some kind soul had seen James picking out his glasses and after he’d left, they’d asked how much they were and paid for them. That brought tears to my eyes. They couldn’t tell us who it was, so we bought them a thank you card and – I think – a gift card and dropped it off for the staff to pass on.

    Another time, we got a call to say his glasses were ready and we had originally been told the insurance would cover everything. But the receptionist said there was about $150 to pay – she had been the one to make the original call to our insurer and she admitted she had given them the wrong information – therefore, we actually owed some money.

    My wife asked if we could pay in installments… the receptionist put us on hold and then came back a few minutes later with the eye doctor. He said, it’s Christmas, it was our mistake, you can have these on us.

    Wow! Truly touching.

    I’ve told these stories to a lot of people because you don’t get customer service like that any more.

    So if you ever live in a town where they have a Gaddies Eye Center… try them out!

  2. Your stories and related poems arrive in neat packages of thought and emotion, feelings we can relate to, to take home with us and apply to our own lives. So real and full of life, and so well done.

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  5. Beautiful– and so amazing how sometimes the totally impractical/abstract things, the thoughts and feelings, the words made into poetry or consolation–are the most practical things for our real survival, more practical at times than a blanket, which might keep us warm, but cannot take the chill out of our souls like a word spoken in kindness or an uplifting poem can do.

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