Be Kind = Show Love = Love Neighbor (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, February 19, 2018

I just got back from the gym at the YMCA. Yes, I still try to go to the gym diligently. Reading this blog post from February 2014 again, I am reminded that being kind is such a helpful, useful thing. And often, it’s simple to be kind. Just to be thoughtful, too, helps ease the social interaction between strangers and acquaintances. As I look at society today, we need kindness more than ever. Please, consider being kind.

BK one kind word b-w

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Be Kind = Show Love = Love Neighbor

This morning, I went to the gym at the YMCA. I had a good workout! So, I needed a shower afterwards, in the locker room. (I was going to work later in the morning.) The shower area is bright and shiny, with a number of shower spots. Sometimes there are just one or two people in there, but other times it’s like Grand Central Station—wall to wall ladies! They often chat while they wait for showers, when it’s so crowded.

I took a quick shower, and there were only two other women in the shower area. By the time I finished up—maybe two and a half, three minutes—the number doubled. A swimmer was turning on the last shower when I said I had just finished. Her eyes brightened. That last shower head was really rotten, she said. She thanked me sincerely! She and I exchanged smiles and several comments as I grabbed my towel. She mentioned again—with a smile—how kind I was to let her have a good shower spot.

Being kind? That’s what I am trying to do every day, with intention. Except, this time, my kind act just happened. I offered my shower spot to another person, just as a matter of course.

I thought about what this swimmer said. I know she said it in a half-kidding manner. But I could see she was half-serious, at the same time. Her comment kept coming to my mind. I was kind to my neighbor, to someone else in the locker room. I’ve mentioned a small book of short selections before, written by Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame). Here’s a pertinent quote from Mister Rogers:

“The more I think about it, the more I wonder if God and neighbor are somehow One. ‘Loving God, Loving neighbor’—the same thing?”

Mister Rogers raises a deeper question. Additional, going further. Somehow more fundamental. What a loving and caring way to go through life. Yes, intellectually, I know I am supposed to love God. As the greatest commandment of Jesus states, Love God, and the second is like it—love neighbor. (I think Mr. Rogers was referring to this twin set of commands of Jesus in the quote above.)  And as Mr. Rogers wonders, aren’t the two commands two sides of the same coin? Yes, loving God is the greatest command. Certainly, there is nothing greater. But Jesus gives “loving neighbor” almost equal billing! (Take a look at Mark 12:28-34 if you want to get a direct take on Jesus and His words.)

What a tall order! Living like this, treating each individual in this way? God, I’m not sure I can live up to all this. That may be just the point. I can’t. God can. Ask God for help. Then, go forward with my hand in God’s, living life the way God means me to. And God can help you, too! Just ask.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Lent 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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Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, I got a real sense of taking care of home and hearth. Not something that I am particularly skilled at, I am afraid. Sure, I can clean, and I even enjoy it. (To an extent.) However, cleaning is not one of my spiritual gifts. (Sorry about that.) I am so focused on my work right now, outside of our apartment This blog post reminds me that I ought to strive to do these things that are a stretch for me. Regularly. Dear Lord, help me to keep trying, both in and outside of my home.

 kitchen scene -Flickr

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 6, 2014

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen

I had an unexpected day off from work yesterday, so I took the opportunity to be a homebody. Just stayed at home, did work on the computer, and caught up on some business (not urgent, but it still needed to get done eventually). I also did some cleaning in the kitchen. Not exactly my favorite thing to do, but it also needs to be done. I cleaned and straightened a number of things, including the counters, microwave oven, table, and especially the stove and sink. (I must be rigorously honest, though. Yes, I still need to wash the floor. It’s in the back of my mind. Nagging. Pestering me. But that’s for another day.)

Some members of my extended family are natural cleaners. Since our family grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, among some Polish immigrants, and since our family has Polish stock in our ancestry, several of my family joke that certain members inherited the Polish cleaning genes. I remember some of the middle-aged and older Polish ladies in the neighborhood, while I was growing up. Their houses would be immaculate. I remember one older lady—I think she was the older aunt or grandmother of the people who owned the house. I’d walk by their garage, a few doors down the alley, and she would be on her hands and knees washing the garage floor. Seriously. No joke cleaning. Well, some of my relatives are almost that thorough.

The verse that I am focusing on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” What could be more loving than making certain that my kitchen is a clean and pleasant place to cook and to eat food? And, to sit and read at the kitchen table? I must admit, things do tend to pile up around my house. Mail. Papers. Books. (It is not a large space to begin with.) This is one area that I know I need to work on. God, I get the message. I feel the nudge. Or, nudges, depending on the week. Sometimes I have legitimate reasons why I can’t get to the housework. Work is important, and I have worked some overtime recently. (My husband was pleased about that—so was I.) But sometimes . . . sometimes, I only do the minimum required.

That’s like my internal housekeeping, too. Sometimes, I only do the minimum to keep things spiritually tidy, to get thoughts and ideas internally organized, to get my brain oriented towards things that are useful, or helpful, or worthwhile. Not that I waste a lot of time (since we don’t have cable television or any of the computer-assisted television packages), but I am pleased to say I do not watch hours of reality television. And—I do not miss it! But enough with bashing current trendy culture.

God, I do want to follow You. Be of service. Act in ways that are kind and helpful. Please, help me as I work on cleaning more regularly, each day. Wow, what a way for me to be of service!

@chaplaineliza

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

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

Reciprocal Kindness and Blessing Happen!

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, February 21, 2015

I try to be a blessing to others. I hope and pray to serve in God’s name, every day. Here in this post, I receive a blessing! Such a big blessing, believe me. It warms my heart, just remembering it. See what I mean.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 23, 2014

blessing much more

Reciprocal Kindness and Blessing Happen!

Another week, another Sunday. Another service. But this week was a bit different. I played the piano again for two senior residences. My loving, willing act of service today involved playing music for the seniors. Yes, I was acting as music leader for the services. But it was more than that—God did a wonderful job of divine coordination with a number of people, and especially with the special music I had chosen. It’s so awesome to watch God show up! God was all over today’s two services.

The scripture passage for this morning was from the gospel of John, chapter 7. It featured Jesus, at the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. He made the revolutionary statement “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (vv. 37-38)

Earlier in the week, I was asked by Chaplain Sarah to play special music before the sermon. I didn’t have an opportunity to get back to her with the title of the music I had prepared. This wasn’t a huge deal, I knew. The service would continue without the music title. I mentioned to Chaplain Sarah before the first service of the morning that I would be playing “I’ve Got Peace like a River.” She paused while getting ready for the beginning of the service and looked at me. “That will be perfect with the scripture and sermon today.”  And it was! I did my best on the arrangement of the spiritual, and Chaplain Sarah had an opportunity to tie in the sermon with the lyrics: ”I’ve got peace like a river,” “I’ve got joy like a fountain” and “I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.” As believers, we do have the peace, joy and love of Christ flowing as living waters from within each of us. Truly, my choice of music was a God-incidence, as my good friend Pastor Joe says.

But that’s not all. Yes, I did play the piano. And it was good to be not only useful with the gifts I have been given, but joyful to be a blessing to the seniors as I played service music for the assembled worshippers. The icing on my cake today came from one dear senior at the second service (at the second retirement home of the morning).

After I had finished a selection of older hymns and gospel songs for the postlude, the common room was almost empty. Just a few older people were left to go back to their rooms (actually, to go back for lunch). This particular dear, aged senior came up to Chaplain Sarah, about a dozen feet from me at the piano. She thanked both of us in her decided manner, taking great care to pronounce each word in her precise way. And then—she blessed us. Blessed us for our ministry. Blessed us both for leading the service. Blessed us with good health and all happiness. We both sincerely thanked her, and we continued to clear the room.

I needed to leave, but I thanked this senior again as I went out, past the elevator. This was not an occurrence that I would brush off lightly. I will hold this dear woman’s blessings close to my heart. Thank You, God. Thank You for the opportunity to be of service. And thank You for unexpected blessings.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

Reciprocal Kindness and Blessing Happens!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 23, 2014

blessing much more

Reciprocal Kindness and Blessing Happens!

Another week, another Sunday. Another service. But this week was a bit different. I played the piano again for two senior residences. My loving, willing act of service today involved playing music for the seniors. Yes, I was acting as music leader for the services. But it was more than that—God did a wonderful job of divine coordination with a number of people, and especially with the special music I had chosen. It’s so awesome to watch God show up! God was all over today’s two services.

The scripture passage for this morning was from the gospel of John, chapter 7. It featured Jesus, at the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. He made the revolutionary statement “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (vv. 37-38)

Earlier in the week, I was asked by Chaplain Sarah to play special music before the sermon. I didn’t have an opportunity to get back to her with the title of the music I had prepared. This wasn’t a huge deal, I knew. The service would continue without the music title. I mentioned to Chaplain Sarah before the first service of the morning that I would be playing “I’ve Got Peace like a River.” She paused while getting ready for the beginning of the service and looked at me. “That will be perfect with the scripture and sermon today.”  And it was! I did my best on the arrangement of the spiritual, and Chaplain Sarah had an opportunity to tie in the sermon with the lyrics: ”I’ve got peace like a river,” “I’ve got joy like a fountain” and “I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.” As believers, we do have the peace, joy and love of Christ flowing as living waters from within each of us. Truly, my choice of music was a God-incidence, as my friend Pastor Joe says.

But that’s not all. Yes, I did play the piano. And it was good to be not only useful with the gifts I have been given, but joyful to be a blessing to the seniors as I played service music for the assembled worshippers. The icing on my cake today came from one dear senior at the second service (at the second retirement home of the morning). After I had finished a selection of older hymns and gospel songs for the postlude, the common room was almost empty. Just a few older people were left to go back to their rooms (actually, to go back for lunch). This particular dear, aged senior came up to Chaplain Sarah, about a dozen feet from me at the piano. She thanked both of us in her decided manner, taking great care to pronounce each word in her precise way. And then—she blessed us. Blessed us for our ministry. Blessed us both for leading the service. Blessed us with good health and all happiness. We both sincerely thanked her, and we continued to clear the room.

I needed to leave, but I thanked this senior again as I went out, past the elevator. This was not an occurrence that I would brush off lightly. I will hold this dear woman’s blessings close to my heart. Thank You, God. Thank You for the opportunity to be of service. And thank You for unexpected blessings.

@chaplaineliza

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 6, 2014

kitchen scene -Flickr

Showing Love, Cleaning the Kitchen

I had an unexpected day off from work yesterday, so I took the opportunity to be a homebody. Just stayed at home, did work on the computer, and caught up on some business (not urgent, but it still needed to get done eventually). I also did some cleaning in the kitchen. Not exactly my favorite thing to do, but it also needs to be done. I cleaned and straightened a number of things, including the counters, microwave oven, table, and especially the stove and sink. (I must be rigorously honest, though. Yes, I still need to wash the floor. It’s in the back of my mind. Nagging. Pestering me. But that’s for another day.)

Some members of my extended family are natural cleaners. Since our family grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, among some Polish immigrants, and since our family has Polish stock in our ancestry, several of my family joke that certain members inherited the Polish cleaning genes. I remember some of the middle-aged and older Polish ladies in the neighborhood, while I was growing up. Their houses would be immaculate. I remember one older lady—I think she was the older aunt or grandmother of the people who owned the house. I’d walk by their garage, a few doors down the alley, and she would be on her hands and knees washing the garage floor. Seriously. No joke cleaning. Well, some of my relatives are almost that thorough.

The verse that I am focusing on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” What could be more loving than making certain that my kitchen is a clean and pleasant place to cook and to eat food? And, to sit and read at the kitchen table? I must admit, things do tend to pile up around my house. Mail. Papers. Books. (It is not a large space to begin with.) This is one area that I know I need to work on. God, I get the message. I feel the nudge. Or, nudges, depending on the week. Sometimes I have legitimate reasons why I can’t get to the housework. Work is important, and I have worked some overtime recently. (My husband was pleased about that—so was I.) But sometimes . . . sometimes, I only do the minimum required.

That’s like my internal housekeeping, too. Sometimes, I only do the minimum to keep things spiritually tidy, to get thoughts and ideas internally organized, to get my brain oriented towards things that are useful, or helpful, or worthwhile. Not that I waste a lot of time (since we don’t have cable television or any of the computer-assisted television packages), but I am pleased to say I do not watch hours of reality television. And—I do not miss it! But enough with bashing current trendy culture.

God, I do want to follow You. Be of service. Act in ways that are kind and helpful. Please, help me as I work on cleaning more regularly, each day. Wow, what a way for me to be of service!

@chaplaineliza

Giving a Shove, Kindly

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, January 26, 2014

chairs shoveled parking place

Giving a Shove, Kindly

I visited some friends this afternoon in a densely populated area of our suburb. Not too far from the Elevated public train stop. I was looking forward to a decent cup of coffee! I parked the car nearby, and walked the rest of the way. As I was walking, I saw a car stuck by the curb. Here in the Chicago area, when it snows, sometimes people have difficulty getting out of their parallel parking places. Especially if the snow is of any depth at all. So, there was this guy with a smaller car. He even had put down kitty litter so his front wheels could get some traction, and was trying to rock his way out. No luck.

The guy looked downhearted. As I walked down the block, I saw him keep trying to get out of the parking place. Without success. I’m in decent shape for my age, and I was early for the meet-up. So, I decided to offer my assistance. He rolled down his window, thanked me for my offer and told me about the kitty litter effort. However, he warned me, “Another guy tried to help a couple of minutes ago, with no luck.” He sighed, looking up at me with a resigned twist to his mouth. I repeated my offer with a smile. He paused a moment, and then gladly accepted. I didn’t want to give him lots of advice, but I did say, “I noticed you trying to rock your car. I’ve gotten my car out in weather like this, and that’s the way to do it. For sure!” We exchanged smiles again, and I went to the rear of the small car.

I tried to time my shoves with his rocking. He almost got the car moving forward, but not quite. I spent about two minutes helping. No luck, again. Another man materialized at my side at the rear of the car. He had assessed what the problem was, and gave the driver a brief explanation and how-to. I stood by, nodding my encouragement. The driver looked more hopeful, now that there were two of us to give a friendly shove. Sure enough, in about thirty seconds, the driver had freed himself from the pile of snow by the curb. He waved to both of us behind the car, and we all went our separate ways.

What a way to be kind and useful. This kind act of service made me think of similar acts—similar activities. In fact, an analogy for everyday life. Just as this driver was stuck in a pile of snow (and not such a huge pile, either), I can get stuck in everyday activities, too. I can get snowed under by a pile of errands, meetings, paperwork, telephone calls that need to be made, emails that need to be read and answered. Sometimes it’s helpful for others to come alongside of me and give me a hand (or a shove!). Then, I can get free of the stuff clogging me up from moving, and freed for more kind, God-honoring acts of service.

Wow. I didn’t expect that. God, such a down-to-earth object lesson for me. Thanks!

@chaplaineliza