Posted: April 29, 2013 in people
Tags: , , ,

The truth you speak doth lack some gentleness,
And time to speak it in–you rub the sore
When you should bring the plaster.

Shakespeare, The Tempest

“He called me a boy,” she said. “Why do people do things like that?”

“People don’t think; they just say stuff,”  I said trying to help. I could tell she was hurt. Someone rubbed the sore.

“You look very nice today. That’s your color,” I said, bringing the plaster the best I could.

“Thank’s!” she said and smiled, bandaged, just a bit.

Kind —  it’s a medicine. It’s salve to the soul. We need it more. Shakespeare got it right, as usual; too often the truth we speak lacks “some gentleness.” We bring a wound when we should bring a bandage. We get fired up, we don’t think, we comment, we misread, we blame, we critique, we attack, we wax unkind.

The other day I locked myself out of my office. My office manager drove from home, to let me back in. She didn’t say, “You should pay more attention.” She just smiled, and let me in. Kindness. Beautiful.

Kindness is the reaction that has a way of minimizing embarrassment, normalizing weakness, affirming loss. Kindness is a warm blanket draped over a shivering soul.

I told someone about a failure of mine. She said, “You did the best you could with what you knew. Using the facts you had at hand, you made the best decision you could at the time.” That’s true, and kind.

My disabled daughter Rosalind can be shockingly kind. If I mention, in casual talk, that her friend Steve can’t speak, and he can’t, she’ll say, “But he can sign really well.” If I say about another disabled friend, “He has trouble controlling his anger,” she responds, “But he really tries. I think he is frustrated.” Rosalind’s default response toward others with disabilities is kind.

This is revealing. When we get it, the pain, when we have experienced it, disability or failure or loss, then kind gets worked into us.  Kind hugs come from the one who knows what it is to need a hug.

Kindness is a kind of strength. Recently one of my friends stepped to a table after a meeting to help another friend, suffering from Parkinson’s, rise from his chair. Another went to his other side, and both, taking an arm, lifted him up so he could stand, and then they waited until he could gather control of his body and leave the room with dignity. That’s kind.

Kindness is not a wimp. Kindness is a tough guy. Kindness does some serious shutting up about things that could be criticized. Kindness does some heavy lifting for those who cannot lift themselves. Kindness crushes criticism with  help. Kindness has a kind of super strength. It can nullify meanness. It can erase hurt. It can doctor a broken ego.

How unwise are they that lack the gentle touch.

Every healthy soul is constructed out of a thousand kindnesses received — and given.

  1. artwidow says:

    Randy, this piece was so beautiful. Once again, I shared your thoughts at prayer. They were a perfect way to start another messy week.

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