A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 13, 2014
Teaching—No, Showing How to Be Kind
De-cluttering is almost always a good idea. I can do with some de-cluttering around here. As I sit in my cluttered living room, I look around and sigh. Yes, I ought to give things away, to Salvation Army thrift stores, or just plain toss some stuff. The same with the other rooms in my house. I won’t even think of the storage space.
What brings this to mind? A few days ago, I was helping a friend of mine go through some of his things. Mostly, he wanted to go through some papers and files. Sorting, to throw away, re-file, or shred. However, he also wanted to de-clutter his place. Get rid of some items, take them to the thrift store. He and I had an enjoyable afternoon. As he went through things, he told me some fascinating stories. We laughed, cleaned, and talked some more. And his apartment was less full of stuff, at the end of the afternoon.
This reminds me of my life (not just my apartment, either!). My spiritual and emotional life need to be de-cluttered from time to time, too. I get the feeling that God likes order. Just looking at creation and how much natural structure, order and reasonability are in this world, this seems to be an inescapable conclusion.
So, my apartment needs de-cluttering. Yes, and I can get rid of one thing every day. That way, at the end of a month, I will have disposed of thirty things. Taken them out of my living space, as well as out of my life. But what about my mind? My mental space? Certainly, that space needs some attention, too. My mind can be cluttered up with worry, frustration, fear, even despair or hatred. These negative emotions can weigh me down. Or, they can distract me from the serious, or useful, or delightful thoughts that otherwise would naturally occur in my mind.
But I want to go back to my friend. One of the things he wanted to give away was a yoga mat. I admired it. (The mat is very well made!) However, I didn’t expect the next words out of his mouth—he told me to take the mat and bring it to my son. My son is a junior in high school. When I came home from my friend’s place, I showed my teenager the mat. His eyes got really big, because apparently I brought home a high quality, super-special yoga mat.
Yes, my son was very grateful. Problem: he wanted me to bring the message to my friend. But independently, both my husband and I urged my son to write a brief thank-you note. My son (and my daughters, too, for that matter) see me writing notes, sending snail mail, communicating with real notecards and greeting cards. (“When you care enough to send the very best.”) My son actually agreed to send a notecard I had in a file drawer, with a personalized message. Talk about teaching by example? Yes, in both my case and my husband’s, too. What a kind thing to do. No matter when or where.