I believe in the power of kindness, a kind gesture, a kind word, a quick smile, a dollar to the dude
on the corner. As much as I give them, I seem to figure out they never come to me, so I savor
the satisfaction that comes with giving.
Michael Singer, in his book, The Untethered Soul, suggests that we are very good at holding onto the unkind words, actions, that are given to us, consciously or otherwise, acknowledging them and then shoving them into our heart where we keep them, protect them, hang on to them, and pull them out when we need the validation that we are the no-body we thought we were. And when kind words and gestures come our way, we listen, thank, then blow them off, because the unkindness in our hearts tells us we're not worthy of the kind words, or we're faking it, or the giver has no idea what they're saying.
Singer suggests that perhaps if we flung those unkindnesses away and hung onto the goodnesses that others send our way, we would be different people, ones to be constantly looking for good, for ourselves and others, rather than always on the look out for bad.
Six weeks ago, at work, with my gesture of transparency and honesty, I reached out to management with two requests. Both requests could have been done without approval, yet I wanted to make sure my requests were honest and timely.
In an untimely fashion (after the fact) I received one response with a firm "no." And then hours after making my second request, I likewise received a "not in your job description, so no," response.
I left my office for a short walk, trying hard to let go of the negative, hold on to the goodness. But I was tired, still recovering from a 10 day cold, and I did not want to be at work. So the negative lingered.
I walked into the Palliative Care Clinic, into an office, and our newest employee sat down next to me. She said, "I have told all of my friends who ask about my interview, that sitting by the chaplain was the best thing for me. You were calm, your energy was reassuring, and I was not anxious at all. I told them, if you ever have a healthcare job interview, request that a chaplain is seated next to you." This was unprovoked, a surprise to me, and a very generous gift. I held on.
I came home, had to call my insurance representative for some car insurance info. After the business was finished he said, "Now we're finished with business, yes?" And I agreed, wondering. And he shared, "When I took the writing class from you (probably 5 years ago), I was so impressed with your teaching style. You pushed us all to go outside of our typical thinking when we gathered resources for our research papers. I remember one student wanting to write about a religious topic, and you told them that was fine, but they needed to find other resources as well, religious magazines were not scholarly documents, rather popular. You really pounded this into us. And as I began writing my paper on DACA (his SIL was a DACA child), I looked at popular articles, and you told me to think critically, think outside of my box. And I did, on that paper and on so many other things that were troubling me at the time. I looked past my comfort zone, and what I found, on so many other things that I wanted to take as truth, that there were many many other sides."
He continued, "I was doubting my religion, questioning the size of my family, looking for reasons to stay in my faith community and reasons to totally walk away. And then I looked critically, talked to others inside and out. And - we're out, and became foster parents, and then we adopted two of the children, and one is transitioning, and I could not have done any of this without your lessons on critical thinking and validating resources. Thank you." Wow, and thank you.
And then, as he was sharing this with me, I received a text with a picture of a prayer note left for me in the hospital chapel. The note was from the father of a young couple who were married in the hospital chapel, where their very sick father could attend; I arranged for treats, arranged for the nurse to bring the father to the chapel, and made the place as simply perfect as I could. The note said, "Prayer of Thank; Chaplain Ronda, My Absolute Gratitude for Helping our Daughter Have the Dream Wedding she thought she wouldn't be able to have. Thank You for being so kind and willing to Make This Happen."
Mark Twain said, "I could live for two months on a good compliment." Six months worth here, and I'm holding them closely and tenderly.