May 26, 2017

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

All of us can be random dispensers of kindness every day

Cynthia DewesRussia is making menacing noises once again. Congress is in its usual disarray. People are turning to reality TV to escape reality. What’s going on?

But just when we think the world has hit rock bottom, we hear another story about a random act of kindness. We’ve all heard about the “kindness of strangers,” but does it really exist?

As Scripture tells us, it’s easy to be kind to those whom we love, those who show kindness to us, those we approve of. But what merit is there in that? Naturally, we’re kind to such people, but it’s harder to be nice to those we mistrust or disapprove of or otherwise don’t want to be good to. That’s the behavior which should get credit.

Still, happy surprises occur all the time. Once, our German son-in-law was visiting, and went to the store for groceries one day. He loves to shop and to cook, in that order, and while he’s here, he buys food and prepares a great dinner for us now and then.

When he got to the cash register, he was chagrined to find that he hadn’t yet exchanged his German money for ours. Embarrassed, he was going to put back what he’d assembled, when a woman behind him stepped up and offered to pay the bill for him.

It cost well more than $20, but she refused to take his phone number or his offer of reimbursement. Johannes couldn’t get over how generous this kind woman had been. Frankly, neither could we.

Another time, as I was driving down a country road, a big tree toppled over from someone’s yard just as I approached. It lay across the road, and I was lucky I’d avoided being hit. Another man had driven up behind me, and when we got out of our cars to survey the situation, I realized that I was hemmed in.

Now, backing up is not one of my major skills. I’ve managed to rip off two rearview mirrors trying to do it. I told the man my plight, and he immediately offered to back my car up to a driveway behind us and turn the car around for me. After moving his own car, he quickly turned mine so that I was free to leave. How kind of him.

Maybe the little-old-lady factor is kicking in here, but I find help like this at every turn. Young men the age of my grandsons are always quick to help me in the grocery store, the gas pump, whatever. Since I am short, they’re constantly reaching items on the top shelves for me. And as for opening doors, a young man always materializes and holds the door open for me. More kindness.

Our mentally handicapped son used to love poking grocery price tags around when I wasn’t looking, thus making prices a jumble. When the store clerk would notice this and be prepared to scold both of us, he’d notice that Andy was innocent, and just remind me gently to keep an eye on him.

People are moved by others’ infirmities or problems over which they have no control. So, they feel sorry for them and sympathize and suddenly their irritation disappears. It’s a very Christian reaction. But wouldn’t it be nice if we applied random acts of kindness every day just for the heck of it?

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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