Being Kind at a Library

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, April 27, 2014

library clipart illustration

library clipart illustration

Being Kind at a Library

Today was Sunday. The second Sunday of Easter. Today was also a busy day and evening for me. Since a nearby library has open hours on Sunday evenings, I decided to head there after dinnertime. I’m in the process of writing several articles for an encyclopedia, and I wanted to do some additional research. Busily (and happily), I involved myself with research until almost nine o’clock.

I could have written about several encounters I had today. But one brief encounter stuck in my mind. I packed up my laptop and came down to the library lobby, a little before nine. As I entered the vestibule with the sliding doors, I noticed two people blocking the primary exit doors—one library employee and an older library patron with a fancy walker. The older man was a bit stooped. He peered through his glasses anxiously, into the chill and the rain. He seemed to be waiting for someone or something.

This older man caught my attention. As I zipped up my coat, he turned toward me with some stiffness. I could see he had some kind of difficulty in walking or in movement. His shoulders were not quite square as he tried to face me. I smiled at him. Open, friendly. “Hello! You look like you’re waiting for someone.” I nodded with my head at the pavement—and street—outside. Relaxed and easy, I continued to smile.

The man opened right up, and engaged with me immediately. He nodded his graying, frizzy head at me, saying “Yes, I’m waiting for a cab.” He looked outside again, and frowned. The library employee excused himself, and went outside to see whether the cab happened to be waiting around the corner. (Which every once in a while, they are.)

As is the case with some people, the older man started telling me about his life. Waiting for the cab, how long it would take at times. What he was carrying with him in a bag (he showed me), and more, besides. His manner and style of communication seemed a bit awkward, probably due to his physical condition. But I could tell his mind was sharp as a tack.

Our brief interaction was pleasant, open. I could honestly say I think I made a new friend tonight. I smiled again, my bright, cheerful smile. I wished him well and a safe trip home despite the wet and the cold. As I walked to my car, I reflected on the fact that I could have asked him whether he might appreciate a ride home. But—I wasn’t sure how he might receive the offer. On top of which, I did not know what kind (kinds?) of physical difficulties he might have. I did not desire to have an unknown man of questionable health and mobility in my car. Even though he might appreciate the ride.

God, I know I could have offered him a ride. Forgive me for not offering. How sad—and awful—to be considering insurance and liability. That was why I prayed for the older man, though. I really wanted to do the kind thing, and be of service to him. I pray I was.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Be Kind, Serve Others, Forgive Myself

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Be Kind, Serve Others, Forgive Myself

Another day, another opportunity for service. I did do several acts of service today. There are a few I could ordinarily write a decent post about. And,  I promise to write a blog post soon about my evolving thoughts on acts of service. But—today also happened to be Ash Wednesday. I was so busy in the morning and afternoon that I hardly had time to turn around, much less take time to pray.

I got a lot done today, admittedly. I did some laundry for a senior acquaintance of mine—among other things. I ran some necessary errands. I made a few important telephone calls. So, yes. I did do several acts of service for others. However, that is not what is on my mind today. Instead, my mind is focusing on prayer. Or, lack of prayer today. I did not have time to pray this morning, as is my usual habit lately.  Today of all days, I did not pray.

I did a good deal of busy work today. Some of it happened to be very necessary, and a lot of it much appreciated. But I did not take time for me until the church service this evening. It was then that I had the leisure to slow down, take a deep breath, and pray.

Going back in my memory to Ash Wednesdays past, I was not always so connected, so penitential. Sometimes I intellectualized the observance. It depended on where I was, in my thoughts and my experience. I was always respectful. I always honored and respected those who wished to receive the imposition of ashes, or sink to their knees in penitence, or lift their hands in prayer.  But that observant person was not always me. I wasn’t that guy. At least, not often.

But today was different. I felt especially penitent for this observance of Ash Wednesday. And, I truly missed the fact that I was unable to pray this morning. I don’t think it was because I had especially huge sins to confess since the last Lenten observance. No, I suspect it was because I had grown closer to God. For some reason. I am not saying that my acts of service and my Year of Being Kind have anything to do with my relative closeness to God this Ash Wednesday. (But, there may really be a precaution, or a praise. Whatever.)

I did have a close connection to God this evening. I did feel a special openness to God while I sat there in church. I was able to pray with several minutes of absolutely clarity. And, I did confess my sins to God. I felt the forgiveness, mercy and love of God return to me, too.  I prayed, asked forgiveness, and God took care of my sins being right away. Talk about fast! And I didn’t even have to rewind, retweet, or  replay. Thanks, God. Thanks for Your forgiveness, grace and mercy towards me, and towards all who ask Your forgiveness with a penitent heart


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

What if People are Unkind to Me? What Then?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 9, 2014

LOVE God loves everyone

What if People are Unkind to Me? What Then?

Ah, this is a big question in my mind right about now.

I do have the spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement (among others). But what if I can’t find a way to be helpful? What if someone won’t allow me to be encouraging? What if someone shuts me down before I even open my mouth? What then?

I know the scripted answer. Yeah, yeah. I need to be kind to them. That’s what I’m “supposed to” do.

I get the sneaking feeling—well, all right, God. I know what You’re going to say already. You want me to be kind to them. Period. It’s not only the loving thing for me to do, it’s the kind thing. And the merciful thing. And the morally right thing. On top of everything else, what would Jesus do? (Yes, we’re back to that again.) How would God treat an unkind person?

I know what the Bible says. I Corinthians 13 tells me to love, and gives specific parameters for that loving. Verse four tells me that love is patient and kind. Okay, I ought to be patient and kind. Not some of the time, not part of the time. Not even most of the time. There are no time frame stipulations on love. So I figure God wants me to love all the time.

But what about . . . so-and-so? What’s-his-face isn’t kind, at all! So-and-so wouldn’t be patient if you paid her! Um, I have the feeling that my protests and excuses just won’t go too far. God is going to be like a kind, patient but strict teacher—or coach, or manager. It doesn’t matter how What’s-his-face or So-and-so might act. (As Aslan would say, that’s part of their story. I am not to concern myself with them or their situations. I have quite enough to handle with my story and living my life to the best of my ability. Oh, yeah. And to the glory of God, too.)

Let me turn the tables, as much as I’m hesitant, and tell tales on myself. Yes, I know I’m unkind some of the time. I’m one of those mean, unkind people. I must make some people really angry and upset sometimes. Even though I honestly try not to be unkind, I fly off the handle, I get upset. I lose my patience and get irritated. Yes, guilty as charged. What about you? Are you unkind, once in a while? More often than that?

In the past few days, I have been irritated with people I know. I have lost my patience here at home. I have raised my voice in the car, and yelled at the other drivers. But God still loves me, forgives me. God still waits, arms outstretched. God wants to welcome me back home. Can I do any less? I need to look for ways to be loving, patient and kind, as much as possible. God, help me look for opportunities.


Being Kind Through Forgiveness

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, January 21, 2014

forgive others

Being Kind Through Forgiveness

Have you ever suddenly realized something serious? I mean, deep down significant? Yup. That happened to me today.

This afternoon I talked with someone I sincerely respect and appreciate. I was going on and on (as I sometimes tend to do when excited and/or emotional), and my friend pointed out something significant. She summarized what I had said and then lifted up the pertinent point. I mean, the thing practically bit me on the nose, it was so obvious. I needed to forgive, badly. I couldn’t hold on to that resentment any longer.

Awestruck, I sat there for a moment or two, and then I thanked my friend. Newly resurfaced, the thing was bobbing around at the top of my mind. Not that I was gnawing on it regularly, but something caused the thing to resurface last week after a long time of not thinking about it. I vividly had the realization that resentment was curdling inside of me like extremely sour milk. (Eww!!) Again suddenly, I realized I had been holding that awful, nasty feeling inside of me for many, many months. I had to let it go.

For this blog, the verse I have been focusing on for the month of January is Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” I’ve spoken a lot about being kind and tenderhearted to one another already. But I haven’t said anything about the second half of this verse. Until now. I need to forgive others. I mean, I really need to forgive, because God has forgiven me. I can think of three distinct times (there are more, of course) in the Gospels where Jesus specifically deals with forgiveness. (The three times I have in mind are two parables and in the Lord’s Prayer). Yes, Lord. You’ve got me. Right between the eyes. Guilty as charged.

I received abundant, loving forgiveness from God for my many faults and flaws, for sins of commission and omission. Therefore, I need to freely turn around and forgive. Any personal, practical outworking of God’s forgiveness in my life will be realized as I actively forgive others. Yes, Lord. Intellectually, I know this truth. I even have experienced it, on any number of occasions. However, this half-forgotten thing in my life was secretly curdling on some inner, recessed pantry shelf. On my insides, deep within. Pulling it out of my memory last week was just the beginning. When I discussed it today with my friend, I received some relief. Going further and acknowledging it to God will bring me further peace of mind. Taking that additional step of asking forgiveness of God and releasing that horrid resentment will bring me serenity. Then and only then, will I experience serenity and peace first with God (most important), with others, and (also significant) with myself.

I suppose today I was kind to myself. Not that I have completely forgiven the situation. No, but I’ve taken several steps towards forgiveness. I’ve started; I am halfway there. <deep sigh> Thanks, God.