Being Kind by Cracking a Joke (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, August 31, 2018

This post made me so happy! When I read through this, I instantly remembered the young man whose day I brightened. Imagine, I was able to do that just by giving him a bright smile and making a humorous comment. How many other people go through their everyday activities all sad and down in the dumps, with no one to make them smile? It was a simple interaction I had with the cashier, and I hope a meaningful one, too. It is a reminder for me: be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. Please.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 1, 2014

ruddy duck, Chgo Bot Grdn, photo credit Kevin Jones

Ruddy duck (male), as identified by my friend Tom Russell.
photo credit – Kevin Jones, Chicago Botanic Garden, 9/1/14

Being Kind by Cracking a Joke

Today is Labor Day! The “official” end of summer, and a day for holiday festivities, picnics, barbeques, and all manner of outside activities. I spent a quiet holiday with my husband. Quiet and enjoyable! My husband wanted to go to one of our favorite places in town, the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Even though the day felt muggy, the overcast sky helped the weather seem a bit cooler. So, there we were. Traveling northward, taking our time. It was a holiday morning, I reminded my husband.

When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens, my husband (once again) commented on the fact that we have a Garden membership. (My father-in-law is very kind! That’s been his Christmas present to our family for quite a few years now.) “Yup. We can go right ahead, in the members’ lane. Don’t need to wait in line to pay. Yes, indeed.” I shook my head at my husband for his ridiculousness, and commented that he sounded quite a bit like Don Knotts in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”

It was a good thing that my husband took his large umbrella along when we left the car. The overcast sky threatened rain all morning. Lo and behold, the rain started while we were quite some distance from the entry gate, in the middle of the garden. As I said, good thing. In fact, it was a novelty for us to walk around the garden in the rain.

And the flowers! The colors! We saw a riot of color! Explosions of flowers! Absolutely gorgeous time to go to one of the most beautiful natural places in the Chicago area.

All that leads up to the being-kind part for the day. After having my fill of beauty and lovely flowers and restful greenery, I stopped at the gas station just west and north of the Garden. Very large gas station. Lots of gas pumps, and roomy interior to the building. As I went into the building to pay, I noticed the young man behind the counter. He looked glum. I mean, really sad. I paused, a number of steps away from the counter, and watched him carefully as he waited on another customer. I could just feel the sadness in him: a palpable thing.

As I stepped up to the counter, I gave him my signature smile. (I do have a friendly smile. I’ve mentioned it before.) “Good afternoon!” I pushed my twenty dollar bill across the counter, slowly. He watched it slide towards him for one second, and then two. He picked it up as I said, “I’d like twenty dollars,” and paused. Grinned wider—“on lucky pump number thirteen!” The cashier was a bit taken aback at my comment, and then instantly recovered. His whole appearance transformed, his face lit up. Nodded. He opened the cash register, and continued to smile at me. I waved as I turned to go.

Such a little thing. Off the cuff. I didn’t even think before I made that comment to that young man. But I suspect I made a difference to him, today. I hope so. I pray so. God, please be with that young man! Today, and every day.

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

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A Perfect Day—to Help Out

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Autumn--my very favorite color." -- Belle Oliver

“Autumn–my very favorite color.” — Belle Oliver

A Perfect Day—to Help Out

Today was the perfect day. Beautiful, sun-dappled October afternoon. Warm weather—perfect for shirtsleeves. Indian summer was the phrase that came to mind. Couldn’t imagine anything better.

My youngest daughter was in Chicago for the day, working at the restaurant where my oldest daughter is manager. At the last minute, my oldest daughter needed an extra pair of hands at the restaurant. Good thing her sister was available! Moreover, the reason I went into Chicago this afternoon.

Full disclosure: my husband does not particularly care to go into the city on the weekend. For years, he’s worked downtown during the week, so he prefers to be anywhere but the city when it’s his time off. Except, it was a particularly gorgeous afternoon, one of the very last until next spring—November being right around the corner. I wanted to know whether he’d be willing to come with me to pick up our daughter when she was done at the restaurant. Sure, he said.

Neither of us expected to see children trick-or-treating all up and down the street. Participating businesses had signs in their windows, stating that they welcomed trick-or-treaters. Mid-afternoon, temperate weather, sidewalks mobbed with people of all ages dressed in costume. Sure, mostly children, but also twenty-somethings, parents, even older people. As my husband and I walked to the restaurant, I commented on several adorable or remarkable costumes. My husband and I saw lots of princesses, some superheroes, spacemen, dragons, lions, pirates, and black cats.

I wonder whether some people wear their costumes on other days of the year. A few even all the time. Not necessarily fancy-dress costumes, but still in masquerade. Still putting on a part, not being real or genuine. Sure, some of it is protective, or amusing, defensive, or even unconscious. I thought these deep thoughts afterwards, not this afternoon. At the time, I was too busy enjoying the sights and sounds of the passing parade of people. As I think back on the afternoon, other than remembering the gorgeous weather, I wonder whether I might wear a costume sometimes. Just pretend. Whether I am less than genuine and real sometimes. If I am honest, I must admit that I do wear masks, I do wear a false face or costume sometimes. I hope it is less than I used to. God willing, I can try to do is to be honest and genuine, one day at a time.

This afternoon, my husband and I successfully retrieved our daughter, made our way back to the car, and wended our way home. My husband even encouraged me to take the long way, which pleased me. And, my daughter was overjoyed that she didn’t have to take the El all the way home. Altogether, a lovely, out-of-the-ordinary fall outing. And, an extraordinarily pleasant way of being helpful.

@chaplaineliza

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Of Taxi Service and Altruism

A Year of Being Kind blog –Sunday, June 15, 2014

God thanks for everything

Of Taxi Service and Altruism

Music is awesome! Since I studied a music major for my undergraduate degree, I absolutely concur.

My daughter plays several reed instruments. She is quite skilled at what she does, and she currently plays in a community band here in the north suburbs of Chicago. The band director at her school retired recently. He now directs the community band, and he recruited her to play several lower reed instruments.

The band happened to have a concert scheduled for today. This afternoon, at a senior citizen retirement center. The center was located a distance from home, and I acted as a taxi service for my daughter today. The humorous stuff aside, I offered to drive my daughter to and from the concert.

I hesitate to admit this, but I was not completely altruistic. The day was simply gorgeous! True, I did need to drive a long way, but the weather more than made up for it. Plus, after the concert, my daughter and I took the opportunity to drive more on some roads we don’t usually get to.

I wonder . . . how many times am I less than altruistic in my ways of being kind? In my attempts at service and being helpful to others? If I am honest, it’s more than once in a while. I haven’t kept count, but I would think it’s on occasion. Even, sometimes.

The verse I chose for June keeps rattling around in my head, too. Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” God, I ought to keep my eyes on You, and not get distracted by any other person, place or thing. Sure, I drove my daughter to her band concert. But I can’t get all puffed up by this tendency I have to pat myself on the back. No self-aggrandizement. (I’ve got to put a stop to that!)

I realize it’s a kind of a contradiction. Yes. But any time I start feeling smug, and congratulating myself? That’s for sure the time that I ought to put on the brakes. In that case, I need to take stock of exactly why I’m doing this being-kind-thing.

God, help me keep the focus where it ought to be—on You, and on others. I want to help, to serve. To be kind. Thanks for the reminder.

@chaplaineliza

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Lovely Afternoon to Be Kind!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lagoon at Chicago Botanic Garden, May 17, 2014 (photo-Rachel Jones)

Lagoon at Chicago Botanic Garden, May 17, 2014 (photo-Rachel Jones)

Lovely Afternoon to Be Kind!

So there we were, on our way up to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Absolutely gorgeous May afternoon. The sky was blue, and partly cloudy. With big cumulonimbus clouds stacked in huge piles around the sky. A great day to be outside, and especially going to such a wonderful place as the Botanic Garden!

My daughter wanted some lunch, so we stopped at a Subway sandwich shop on our way up Green Bay Road. As we got out of the car in the jam-packed strip mall parking lot, I noticed the car next to us, on the north side. Being a friendly sort of person, I smiled at the man standing next to the car. He nodded back at me, but didn’t smile. That’s okay. Sometimes people don’t feel like smiling.

We walked the short distance to the sandwich place, stood in line, got our order, and went upstairs to the cute seating area (first Subway I’ve ever seen that was two floors!). My daughter and I often have excellent conversations: today at lunch was no exception. After the leisurely lunch (did I mention the wonderful conversationalist I had to talk to?), she and I walked back to the car. There was the same car. And there was the man—still waiting. Or just standing there. He was on the shorter side, almost compact. Small mustache, light gray jacket, still hanging out next to his car.

I almost drove off without a second thought. Almost. Then, I did have second thoughts. And third ones, too. I put down the window on the passenger side of the car while my daughter almost died of mortification. “Hello!” I smiled again. “Can I help? Do you need something?” The man seemed honestly surprised. “Hmm—n-n-no,” was his response. I stayed put. He continued, “I wait for someone.” He nodded at another person talking on her cellphone, some two hundred feet away. “All right, if you’re sure,” was my exchange. He nodded. I smiled again. Then drove on further north, on Green Bay Road.

We had a lovely time at the Garden. My daughter took a number of photographs, and almost very flowering bush and tree was in bloom. (Gorgeous!!) But that man wouldn’t leave my mind. I have found that this is what happens when I am supposed to pray. I did pray for the man and for his companion, the woman I saw at a distance on the telephone.

I thought about the man and his companion, when we were on our way out of the Garden, as well as on the ride to the nearby bookstore. I am concerned about this gentleman, and for his companion. I hope their car is working properly. And knowing what I do, sometimes? About people on the North Shore suddenly getting a change in economic circumstances. I hope nothing like that happened to him.

I hope he and his companion had a lovely afternoon, too. I pray so, too! God, please hear my prayer.

@chaplaineliza

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