The Good News…

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It becomes easy to focus on what seems bad in the world. It becomes easy to set our sights on outrage, lies, deception, greed, and stupidity. It becomes easy to pass the outrage along, to mock, to even grow cruel from a sense of powerlessness or grief.

The good news is this: in general, people want to be generous, kind, thoughtful, and loving.

Tuesday of this week, someone who had been doing work exchange for me decided to take a hiatus from one part of our arrangement. I asked if I should find someone else to do the tasks she had taken on. She replied that no, there wasn’t too much work to do and she was volunteering for Solar Cross, which does other good things. I felt grateful, but didn’t think much of it until later that afternoon.

It was a very busy day at the house of hospitality (aka “the soup kitchen”). The state of the economy is seen clearly in the fact that lines are growing longer, and three giant pots of soup proved to not be enough. Emergency soup had to be made. We went through multiple gallons of soup, plus salad and bread. People remained cheerful. Dogs played in the sun. Conversations were had.

While we scrambled toward closing and clean up, a guest – I’ll call him Marcus – said “bring some bread bags and come sit with me awhile.” Now Marcus often doesn’t speak. Winter and summer he wears a watch cap and heavy jacket. Some days he reads the paper and will greet me. Other days he sits or stands near a corner and just watches, not interacting at all. I assume the latter are days that where mind and soul are in some difficult place, a place that Marcus can crawl up from only long enough to feed himself before receding once again. Tuesday was a “good” day. I replied that we were cleaning up so I couldn’t sit for long, but complied nonetheless. From his small duffle bag, Marcus brought out brand new boxes of fancy baked goods: ginger cookies, walnut brownies, nut bars, even pie. He had asked for the bags because he wanted to share his bounty and needed help. We figured out what he wanted to keep – which wasn’t much – and what he wanted to give away. He wanted to be sure that it didn’t all go to one person, but that I shared them out to as many people as I could.

Marcus was smart. He knew he needed to wait until the end of the day to offer his treats, when the crush was over and a couple of handsful of people remained, talking and packing up their belongings. He also couldn’t hand them out himself, being a person who barely interacts with others. As I brought the baked goods around, I made sure people knew they had come from Marcus. They were happy to get the treats. Before Marcus left, I told him that people were happy and grateful. I did not share with him that some of them seemed a bit puzzled when I pointed out who their benefactor was. Yes. The man who almost never speaks and sometimes won’t even look at you. The man whose coat and hat were ripped up and encrusted with life on the street until someone gifted him with new things four months ago.

And so the world goes around. Someone decided to continue to help me with my work load in the morning. That afternoon, rather than tell Marcus I was too busy to sit down, I brought the bags he requested, not knowing why. He generously passed on what he had been given – likely some day-old cookies from a local baker.

Marcus insisted on keeping the ingredients labels from the small bakery boxes. I have no idea why. His brain works in ways that are opaque to me. But his impulse toward kindness? I understand that. We all have it, even those whom we might look at while seeing only greed. Those people are kind to someone or something. Those people have their moments of generosity. 

The good news is, sometimes there are cookies to share. The good news is, mostly, we want to be kind. Can we take a collective breath right now and open to generosity? Can we step away from news and scandal for an hour?

If you will, let’s share again our stories: when has kindness shown itself in your life?

 

 

34 Responses to “The Good News…”

  1. Karina B. Heart

    I collect kindnesses and savor them. When you’re eyes are open, they are abundant. Choosing one to share is difficult, but I’ll here’s one:
    I’m a writer. I have always been a writer. I published my first poem in the local newspaper at ten years old. It was always a Truth that I would publish someday. The responsibilities of sole-parenting my two beautiful children have pushed writing to the far end of the priority list. Nevertheless, a few months ago, I put writing on the front burner (again). I wrote fast and furious in the short windows of uninterrupted time I could carve out of my days. Soon, it became apparent that I needed larger windows for more sustained periods of time. I needed a retreat away from home to do nothing but write.
    I had time and childcare arranged due to a cancelled teaching trip. But, I no money at all to rent a space. I looked at hostels and cabins and even inquired at a Jesuit retreat center. There were plenty of offers from friends to stay with them, but I knew I would feel obliged to visit rather than write. I didn’t know how I was going to make this happen.
    Then, the amazing kindness: A friend offered me his Time Share–a fully furnished condo in the Berkshires all to myself. The only distractions were the heated pool and the preparation of my simple meals.
    Off I went for four intense days of writing and editing (and swimming). My long overdue book is near completion. I couldn’t have come this far without the Kindness of a friend who wanted nothing other than the pleasure of knowing I was able, finally, to write.
    Love and Power.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Karina,

      I agree that when we are open to kindness, kindness becomes apparent. This is true of so much, isn’t it?

      Hooray for you, your friend, and your book!

      Reply
  2. Bob

    Over the past month, I have, once a week, bought coffee for someone else while standing in line for my own morning fix.

    No reason, just a random kindness out of the blue, which I ask people to pass on. As it turns out, one of the recipients works in the same building, but a different department. Another now smiles at me if we pass on the sidewalk.

    Usually, people seem surprised. They object. We don’t expect kindness or courtesy, because we’re so often told that it doesn’t exist, that everyone is out for themselves, that someone is eyeing your fair share. Vote for X, vote for Y, vote for Z.

    Buying coffee is a small thing. A trivial thing. But if it’s the spark that makes their day brighter and, as a result, they make a better choice/decision, it has the potential to be a very important small thing.

    Doesn’t have to be coffee. It can be a smile. A kind word. A thank you. If you can’t volunteer because of work or other pressures, put whatever kindness into the world you can.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Bob, that is grand. What a simple way to shift the energy around you. I agree that generosity and kindness can be small – and those small connections can have big results.

      Reply
  3. Madelon Wise

    This is a different kind of story. This last week my niece, who lives in Sydney, Australia, came to visit me and my little family. I don’t really know my niece, whom I have only seen two other times: once when she was a baby and once when she was in high school.

    That I have had no kind of relationship with my two nieces in Australia has long been a soreness, a hole in my heart. Not only are they on the other side of the world, their father (my brother) was mentally ill and my relationship with him was extremely difficult and complicated. Add to that my own physical disabilities that preclude me traveling on a plane for 16 hours and that finances have been very tight for me most of my adult life.

    But this niece made the kind effort to come through Wisconsin to visit me and her cousin, my daughter. This was a big risk for her: she didn’t know who I was or how she would be greeted here.

    We connected as though we have been on intimate terms all our lives. She is an amazing, accomplished, intelligent, funny, and compassionate woman, despite growing up in horrible chaos.

    She came here specifically to be with me on my brother’s birthday (He passed away a year and a half ago) and on my birthday, two days later. For my birthday, Karen cooked me several Sri Lankan-style curries and went hiking with me and my belove dog. We then hung out with my daughter, her husband, and their small children. It was one of the best birthdays of my life, steeped in kindness and connection.

    I hope that the kindness I showed this long-lost relative was my honesty and my philosophy that whatever hand we have been dealt, we can contnue to evolve. That is our job.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Madelon,

      it sounds like both of you were taking a risk and were rewarded! Here’s to continued evolution! I was talking just this week about how hard it can be to shift family patterns. But it is so important to change our relationship to family if we can, so that everyone has a chance to grow.

      Reply
      • Madelon Wise

        Thank you. I felt this was a most important shift in our family story, and that maybe those of us who connected so deeply and showed such kindness to one another can even heal my deceased brother in some way.

        Reply
  4. Xena (Kari)

    I had emergency major abdominal surgery in August. I am still too weak to stand or walk for long. We had tickets to a kd lang concert that we found out would have no chairs. We rented a wheelchair for me and took it from there. I got into the chair in the parking lot–traffic stopped for me. We got to the venue (that is not wheelchair accessible) and the staff outside called us up, stopped the line and carried the chair up the stairs and the inside stairs. I was offered all kinds of help by people who bent over backwards for me. During the concert, people for the most part, made a concerted effort to stay out of my line of vision. I was touched by the whole experience–glad the wheelchair is not permanent–but I appreciated the kindness of strangers.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Xena,

      I hope you are recovering well! It’s great that you went to the concert anyway, and even more wonderful that people were so helpful. So often, if we give people the chance, they really want to help.

      Reply
  5. Amanda

    I cannot stand gossip or any of that so I look for the good and share it with others. I love when people are happy and good natured. I draw energy from my friends and family that hare nice and kind and always uplifting.

    Reply
  6. Starr

    When my daughter was an infant, we had a car seat for her but she was going to outgrow it soon. I was out one of the rare times I was away without her. My friend had begun flirting with a guy in traffic and next thing you know the three of us are at a coffee shop. We were talking about life etc and our woes. I mentioned needing to buy a new car seat and explained that I had one but would need to upgrade soon and was concerned about the expense. He asked if we would show him where the nearest department store was, he was from out of town, and so he followed us to a store. We all went in and were looking around and he guides us to car seats and says “Which one do you need?” I was flabbergasted and tried to say no. Then I sort of wondered where he thought all this was getting him and said something to the effect (I mean after all we had gone from a stop light flirtation to coffee to this). He said he thought God lived in each of us and that the God in him wanted to buy my kid a car seat and there was no catch. He would leave and never see us again. He grabbed the most expensive one, a kind that you can use from infant through toddler age. He bought it, left, and I didn’t see him for two years. That car seat was about $150 bucks. I didn’t have that money, we were really struggling then. Two years later I bumped into him at a restaurant, this time with family. The business he worked for had moved him here. I tried to thank him, but he waved me off and said anyone would have done that. I never saw him again.

    That was one of many kindnesses I’ve been extended from strangers or unlikely places. I am so grateful and when I remember this story I always send a little prayer up for this man, wherever he is.

    Reply
  7. Leanne Pemburn

    When I was in school, my aunt (my father’s elder sister) helped me out with a loan. She was single and taught sixth grade, and was very careful with money. Our relationship was challenging on many levels, but I appreciated her help, including the lessons I learned when we argued.

    When she passed away, she left her estate to my sister and I, rather unexpectedly. Not having children of my own, I used some of the money to start college funds for my nieces and nephews, and our closest neighbor’s son. None of the funds were huge, but it was a joy to turn them over as each entered college, and allow them to focus more on their studies than how they would pay for it. I honor the memory of my aunt, for whom eduction was the highest good.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Leanne, your story is a reminder that magic works when it flows. Kindness and generosity help it along. Wonderful.

      Reply
  8. circe_david Garrido Masmitjà

    “The good news is this: in general, people want to be generous, kind, thoughtful, and loving”.
    That’s exactly what I know. Sometimes they forget but it’s ok, what matters most is that I remember what I truly know. When everyone is allowed to do what they need and desire, they are more playful, joyful, kind, loving…it’s a constant, just like gravity, I still have to find the exception. I’m sure energy always move to more freedom, more balance, more love, more peace, more well-being, and this is not just words, this are physics!!! Just watch a termometer!!! Just watch a cork under the water!!! Just watch water flowing in canes!!! Just watch animals and how they behave, they run for they freedom!!!

    Reply
  9. Tara

    I love all the wonderful stories on this thread. It’s inspiring.
    When I was 18, my boyfriend and I were travelling across the country. It was December and we were driving through the mountains of Arkansas. We didn’t realize how much it would be snowing up there, and had no snow tires on the car. Before long, we skidded on the ice and careened into a soft snow bank on the side of the country road. This was long before the ubiquity of cell phones, and we were way out in the boonies. I saw a house across the street, and made my way over there to ask to use their phone to call AAA.
    I wasn’t sure how the people there would treat us, because we were young freaks clearly not from around there. I didn’t know if they would think we were Satanists or what, but I really had no choice but to knock on the door. Turns out they were extremely nice, and not only that but happened to have their own tow truck to pull us out of the snow bank! I was so extremely grateful at our good luck and at being so pleasantly surprised at the strangers kindness.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Tara, isn’t it interesting what happens when our choices feel so limited we have to take a risk? We get to have an encounter – with ourselves and someone/something else. I’m glad kindness happened here.

      Reply
  10. Starr

    Countless kindness gestures of staying with friends (and strangers) when I travel have made traveling more affordable and possible for me.

    A very special kindness was when a friend invited me to join her on her weekend solo retreat right after my break up, nearly a year ago. Despite knowing I might not be much fun, she made room for me. I drove 4 hours and met her at a condo on the lake. This started my healing process immediately. We shared stories, laughs, walks, ritual, a baseball game… she listened to me, let me cry, understood when I wanted to sit quietly or needed to be angry. She was a calm and gentle presence, not goading me toward any emotion or reaction – just present with me in a deep way. I believe it shaped the way I went on to handle my heart ache and the break up, which was a spiritual process for me.

    Reply
  11. Gerry

    Several months ago I related here that my wife and I had taken in a young woman after she had been ejected from her parents home due to her sexual orientation. She ended up staying with us for about six months.

    A few weeks ago she spread her wings and is now out on her own. As she was packing her things and getting ready to leave I pulled her to one side. I told her that there was a price for having lived with us for the past months (someone’s eyes got rather large at this!). I said that at some point in her life someone in a bad situation would desperately need her help. I told her that she would know that moment when it arrived and that was when we expected her to pay forward the kindness. Then I said to her that I knew she would be fine on her own but that crap happens in life and that if times got too tough to handle on her own not to forget that we are here. She left later that evening amid tears and hugs.

    Last night my wife got a text from her. It read “Mom see you soon. Be by tonight!”. We have a second daughter now because we were open to being kind. Sometimes kindness results in family. Who is more enriched by kindness? My wife and I know.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Gerry, how truly wonderful. What an impact you and your wife have had on her (and she on you!) and what a great gift to give the world.

      Reply
  12. Anita Perez

    I have been having chronic back pain for a couple of weeks- the kind where sleep is impossible, and every move sends electric shocks of pain searing through my torso and down the back of one leg. I was very upset, because I had an art exhibition coming up within just a few days, and had to drive for quite a long distance, needed help hang the show, etc. My arts & crafts business has been languishing for quite some time, and I couldn’t afford to let this opportunity slide, so I was very afraid. There was no money for a chiropractor, and I knew a visit to the ER would generate more debt, and not address the real problem. I posted about my quandary, on Facebook, out of sheer frustration. Within minutes, people started messaging me, offering distance Reiki, spells and prayers for healing. The curator for the exhibit called me up, and offered to move my showing to November, and explained my situation to other artists, who agreed to have their showings shuffled around in order to help me. Several people made Christmas purchases ahead of their original plans, and trusted me enough to send money in advance, in order to make sure that I could survive long enough to have my showing in November. All this was/is amazing to me, and my heart is FILLED to overflowing with gratitude!

    Reply
  13. Anita Perez

    btw- the Reiki and healing energy was a HUGE help, and the pain has been significantly reduced! Another cause for immense gratitude!

    Reply
  14. Rootrealm

    Kindness is a good theme to explore. I experience the movement towards kindness as one coming from a sense of inner abundance and overflowing life.

    I am the “black sheep” and “scapegoat” of my family, and have been effectively disowned by them. THey stopped communicating with me, and one part of the family even prohibited me from contacting them. Yet I feel a wish to overcome these obstacles if possible, and re-establish communication and connection where possible, and I believe this motive is based in kindness and love. I could certainly respond in various negative ways to the manner in which I’ve been rejected and treated by my family, but I choose not to do that. I do experience as legitimate my own pain and grief about my parent’s and family’s failure to love and value me adequately, but I don’t want to allow this pain to close me down and prevent my being a loving person.

    This week, I called my 82 year old Mother, whom I had not spoken to for 6 years. During this conversation, she again made hurtful and critical comments about my life and values, yet with the support of an important person in my life who sat with me as I spoke to her, I was able to respond in a generous, kind and neutral way, and overlook these criticisms, attempting instead to build a bridge during our brief conversation.

    I would also like to mention that my wish to be kind in some situations is actually prevented by the legal system. I am a landlord, and my initial, kind instinct was to just attempt to resolve all problems with tenants with open, honest communication. After being sued by a former tenant, I discovered that open, honest communication is not valued by the legal system, and in fact, that one can get into legal troubles by being honest and believing that communication is the best way to resolve problems, because the more that one says in good faith, the more that a malicious attorney, in bad faith, can distort and twist what you say, and attempt to use it against you. The litigious culture we live in, and the tendency of so many tenants (and others!) to run to lawyers when their feelings are hurt, often reduces the possibility of two human beings being able to sit down and speak from the heart.

    So, be kind, but also, be wise and prudent.

    Reply
    • Thorn

      Rootrealm, it sounds like you have learned to be kind to yourself, which ends up including being kind to your mother. I’m glad to hear you have support around this process.

      Reply
  15. Kirsten

    I recently dug through a couple bargain stores and put together gallon zip bags full of supplies. Now when I bike by someone begging on the street, I can hand them a gallon bag filled with: a pair of socks, a can of chicken with a pop top, a granola bar, a small bottle of mouthwash, a toothbrush, a few cough drops, travel sized hand sanitizer, and a large bandage. :) I’d been handing out fresh clean socks for years, but I wanted to do a little more.

    Reply

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