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EndNotes

Posts tagged: Kindness

A poem

Sometimes one needs a poem. My friend loves poetry. Today, I will escort her to her first round of chemotherapy - for her returning cancer. We cried in church a few weeks ago as she told me her health status. We shared breast cancer journeys years ago…and now this monster returns inside her body.

I believe compassion is simply the act of walking into the middle of another person's suffering and staying present. And I believe that walk demands courage. I pray for my courage to accompany us as she takes these next steps. I pray,too, for kindness.

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

—Naomi Shihab Nye

(S-R archives photo)

  

Kindness…a Jesus trait

Following Pope Francis – his travels and theology – causes me to smile and relax. No silly statements, just embracing people and their humanity. His comments infused with compassion and kindness offer hope for the Catholic Church.  See story

I think that Jesus may have evoked similar reactions of warmth and acceptance of self and others. Could it be any simpler: “Love one another as I have loved you.”?  

(S-R photo: Pope Francis delivers his homily during a Mass at Rio de Janeiro's Cathedral in Brazil, Saturday, July 27, 2013.)

Countering anxiety with kindness

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Wise Words with Kent Hoffman

At the end of people's lives, many people, if they can face the hard fact, regret the times they hurt others in ways small and large.

Kent Hoffman, my Wise Words interview Saturday, believes in the power of kindness. He said it's an antidote to the free-floating anxiety, fear and rage in our culture right now. And if you start practicing kindness now, you won't have as many regrets on your death bed! Practicing kindness is easier than it sounds. Here's what Hoffman said:

Kindness means slowing down and seeing the infinite worth in people. It’s in the little stuff. One of my favorite places is the checkout stand, where it’s fun to slow down and interact with the person doing the checking. The choice point for me is between being abrupt and quick, versus slowing down and saying here’s five minutes of my life that I won’t get back, so enjoy it. I was getting my tires put on, and the guy in front of me was furious, and he was yelling, and then stormed out. The guy behind the counter didn’t do anything wrong. He just wasn’t quick enough. He got blasted. I felt compassion for the guy and he sensed it. A lot happens nonverbally.  Kindness isn’t doing kindness. It’s being kindness. We slow down. We make ourselves available.

(SR photo by Dan Pelle) 

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at endnotescolumn@gmail.com.

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