In Which I Have a Tickly Throat and Help a Daughter

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, October 20, 2014

autumn road

In Which I Have a Tickly Throat and Help a Daughter

Ever feel that tickly feeling in the back of your throat? The kind where you feel something sort of uncomfortable back there, but you can’t do much about it? That’s how I’ve been feeling for the past few days. October is here. Brightly colored leaves, cooler weather, the grass and greenery turning faded and brown. With all of that change in the growing things out of doors comes mold. The October gusts of wind spread that mold everywhere. Lucky me, I happen to be allergic to much of that mold. Thus—the tickly feeling in the back of my throat—post nasal drip. Also, itchy eyes and full sinuses. Those are things that I need to deal with, every October.

Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn. I really do! I love to walk in the woods or the Forest Preserves, and take a look at the beautiful panorama of nature. But—the mold count does impinge on my full enjoyment of this season of the year. Because of my allergies, I was moving slowly this morning. Sure, I went to work today, and I did get some things done. However, for the most part, I took it easy.

My youngest daughter is home for several days. It happens to be her fall break. She was kind enough to do several loads of laundry while I was at work. (Thanks, Rachel!) On Saturday, she and I talked about her college band. She happens to play the bass clarinet. (Very well, I might add. And, no, it’s not just pride in my daughter. I do know something about music.) She needs several new reeds for the bass clarinet mouthpiece. I said I would pick them up. It’s not like I was going miles out of the way or anything. However, the music store was an additional thing to do. Place to stop. And, I was not feeling that well, on top of things.

But once I got in the car, I found the wheels almost steered themselves to the Band and Instrument store. I asked for some mid-grade reeds of the appropriate hardness, and spent a few enjoyable minutes conversing with one of the workers at the shop. I was kind and friendly to him, too.

Moral of the story? well, not really. It’s just that I have the ability to be kind, friendly, and helpful. I can be of service, even when I don’t feel well. Even when I am rushed, frazzled, frustrated, or downright angry. That means I still have the chance, the opportunity to be kind, courteous, and helpful. Please, God, help me remember these kind, encouraging words and actions. I might be able to pass them along—even when I am not feeling bouncy, friendly and energetic. God willing.

@chaplaineliza

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Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, January 6, 2014

photo by Sergei Kvitko

photo by Sergei Kvitko

Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

It was cold in the Chicago area today. Frigid. I mean, exposed skin would freeze if uncovered for more than a few minutes. I understand that we broke a temperature record with -15 degrees. We won’t even talk about the wind chill, with wind gusts anywhere from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

I needed to be out and about today, going to and from work. Despite the extreme temperature, it was a beautiful day! Crisp, clear air. Blue sky. Since I had a functioning vehicle and wasn’t walking, I enjoyed the trip.

During the course of the day, I met someone who needed to get out of their garage. Thank heaven their suburb was on top of things and had already sent snow plows down the alleys. One wrinkle: in sending out the plow to clear the alleyway, the snow subsequently was piled in a heap against the garages. An anxious senior was involved, and I had the time and the ability. They had the snow shovel. So, I was happy to shovel out the apron of their garage and allow them access to the alleyway.

Another case of “who is my neighbor?” I didn’t live anywhere near this senior, not like my friend with the snow blower whose story I related several days ago. However, I felt compassion for this dear senior. Of course I shoveled the snow.

I try to keep myself in fair physical condition. I consider this part of my spiritual service to God, to keep up my physical self, to stretch and exercise regularly. I try to go to the gym three times a week and do what I can. Cardio-vascular, a little strength training, and (most important!) stretching both before and after. When I don’t go to the gym for a few days, my body starts to let me know through aches and pains.

This is a roundabout way for me to mention exactly why I felt so free to just pick up the shovel and go at it. I feel blessed that I am in decent physical shape, and I don’t want to lose that ability any time soon.

But what about people who are less-abled? Like several of my friends and acquaintances, who have lost some or most of the physical range of motion and ability they were born with? They are growing more and more dependent on others to do things for them. This dependence can be a source of griping and grumbling, or of gratitude and thankfulness. I see any number of reactions and responses to offers of service, on a regular basis.  However, I can let those I serve (or offer to serve) respond as they will. God has not made me an arbiter of people’s thoughts and actions. Instead, God has encouraged me to serve. And this year, my hope, my intention is to find some kind of service each day. Not to judge people on whether they have gratitude for the service, or whether they thank me. Service is what God has called me to do.

I wonder what will show up tomorrow? God willing, I’ll find out.

@chaplaineliza