Crystal Cathedral

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Kindness Korner

Ancient History. We Hope. Before the Civil Rights Movement.

We were speaking of how an act of kindness sticks in the memory.  An act of unkindness also sticks.

A writer tells of going down a lane with a nursemaid in England when two village children ran out and shyly offered him some wild flowers they had plucked.  He remembers bitterly how he haughtily rejected the flowers and ran and took the hand of his nursemaid.  When he looked back, he saw the two children still standing and looking at him, and tears were running down their faces.  "There,"  said the writer, " I first automatically rejected the Kingdom of God."

On the other hand, a certain Black Man will not forget this:  A bus was crowded in a Southern city, and the Black section was overcrowded, so a Texan white man invited the man who was standing to share his seat in the white section.  The bus driver objected and the Black man  got up.  And then the white man in protest stood up with him, refusing to be seated while the Black man stood.  If that man doesn't remember--but I am sure he does--then I cannot forget.  that deed shines against a dark background.

It does something to you while traveling in Japan to have the train pull out to the accompaniment of music over the loud-speaker.  Then when you arrive at your destination, over the loud-speaker a voice graciously says,  "You must be tired.  We are sorry the train is two minutes late.  Please see that you have left no parcels.  Good-bye."  It makes you feel that there is something more to traveling than mechanics.  And as you wash your hands in the train lavatory, there is a bunch of fresh cut flowers, probably carnations.  These touches touch you.  A lot of it is superficial, but superficial or not, it puts a good taste in your mouth.  And then the personal contacts:  I smiled once at a little girl and boy as they came through the train in Japan, and then they came through the car again and again to get another smile--and give a bigger smile.

Paul , looking back upon the shipwreck experience on Malta, remembered on thing especially:  "The natives showed us uncommon kindness" (Acts 28:2).

Dear Father , help me today to search out someone who needs my kindness and give it and give graciously. Amen.

Affirmation for the day:  Severe with self, generous and kind to everyone, especially the unkind and un-generous.

A Life Formula

Ann LeMott

A famous writer and relatively new Christian says this:  Our preacher, Veronica, said recently that this is life's nature:  that live's and hearts get broken--those of people we love, those of people we 'll never meet.  She said that the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward and that we who are more or less OK for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room, until the healer comes.  You sit with people, she said, you bring them juice and graham crackers.

Travel Mercies, p 108

The Origin of Terrible Circumstances

Annie Dillard, a Christian writer says this:

''God is no more blinding people with glaucoma or testing them with diabetes or purifying them with spinal pain or choreographing the seeding of tumor cells through lymph or fiddling with chromosomes than is he jimmying flood waters or pitching tornadoes at towns.  God is no more cogitating which among us He plans to place here as bird headed dwarfs or elephant men or to kill by AIDS or kidney failure or heart disease, childhood leukemia, or sudden infant death syndrome, than He is pitching lightning bolts at pedestrians, triggering rock slides or setting fires.  The very least likely things for which God might be responsible are what insurers call "acts of God"."  So Annie Dillard takes a very strong stand against the notion that we can blame God for the bad things of life.  And I agree with her.

The Kindness Remains

(A gift of the whole booklet was mailed to me.  Here is more on the "kindness" theme. Author unknown).

We left off yesterday when we were considering the fact that Jesus can be as hard as flint at very moment He is as tender as a mother. He can be tenderly terrible and terribly tender.  A little orphaned boy was practically adopted by a soldier during the war. One day he let slip a swear word, and when he did , he looked around for the disapproval and rebuke of his adopting guardian.  But instead the soldier laughed and said, "Never mind, Sonny, say all that kind of thing you want."  The little fellow thought a moment and then burst into tears and said, "If you were my father, you wouldn't say that."  He felt he had wanted and needed something more than sentimental kindness.  He wanted to be saved by hard refusals.

With this redemptive content put into kindness we now consider our growth in kindness.  Perhaps now we can quote these lines, since we have put into kindness a higher meaning:

                                               So many gods, so many creeds,
                                                    So many paths that wind and wind,
                                                When all this sad world needs
                                                     Is just the art of being kind.

That kindness is important is seen by the fact that we remember an act of kindness when all events slip out of memory.  The kindness remains.  At a time when bitterness was strong between Britain and India, I found a prominent Indian wearing a white flower in his buttonhole each day.  He explained to me that when he was in Britain studying, the English landlady used to put a white flower in his buttonhole each day.  The kindness stood out like a star on a dark night of bitterness.

The Finnish people have treated me with many honors--large crowds, eager listeners--but one thing that stands out is the act of an unknown Finnish lady who ran out into the street in the snow, stopped the car and handed me a flower through the window.  That flower blooms fresh and fragrant in my grateful memory.

O Father, help me this day to do some act of kindness that may live in somebody's memory forever. Amen.

Affirmation for the day:  I cover all ugly unkindliness with the same robe of kindliness with which He covers my ugliness. 

Thoughts Generate Chemicals

An Olympic Athlete Trainer says this----

There are four negative feelings or thoughts that produce toxic chemicals in the brain.  They are Hate, Greed, Fear, and Jealousy.  To get his athletes to do better they must change these to Love, Generosity, Courage, and Praise.

He claims that service to others is one of the best ways to move into the healthy context.  Doing this has proven, he says, to be effective in producing the winning edge.

Interesting discovery.  Thoughts produce chemicals, and positive thoughts produce positive chemicals.Of course there is a time for sorrow and vexation, but they must not dominate or they will infect.

Growth in Kindness, or Kindliness

The following comes from a little very old booklet someone sent me:

We come now to the fruit of the Spirit known as kindliness.
This is a very homely virtue, homely in the British sense of belonging to the home--a very commonplace, ordinary virtue.  And yet it is ordinary as salt, and as essential.  Without kindliness there is no virtue in the other virtues.  It puts a flavor into all the other virtues; without it they are insipid and tasteless; or worse, they degenerate into vices.  Love, joy , peace, good temper, without kindliness are very doubtful virtues.  So it is no chance that this is the middle virtue of the nine, putting flavor into all the others.

So to grow in kindliness is to grow in virtues that are flavored with a certain spirit.  The spirit of kindliness pervades everything.  The Old Testament, especially the Psalms, uses the expression "loving-kindness."  A little boy explained the difference between kindness and loving-kindness:  "Kindness is when your mother gives you a piece of bread and butter, but it is loving-kindness when she puts jam on it as well."

But in the New Testament a content has gone into kindness that made adding the "loving" unnecessary.  We have quoted a passage into which the content of Jesus has gone into the worlds:  Treat one another with the same spirit as you experience in Christ Jesus"  Not merely the same actions, but the same spirit in the actions as was in Jesus.  This is the high water of morality in this universe.  Beyond this the human race will not , and cannot, progress.  This is a character and conduct ultimate.  This gives kindness a plus--an infinite plus.

And this saves kindness from mere maudlin sentimentality.  It can be very severe--severe because He loves so deeply that He often has to save us by hard refusals.  And His kindness can cut--it can cut when, like a surgeon, He insists on cutting out of us moral tumors and cancers.  But always His severity is security.  It is redemptive.  He loves us too much to let us go.

Easter Changed the World

Easter is packed with essentials:

1.  Physical life is valuable.  Life is not just waiting for heaven.

2.  There is a resurrecting presence and power around us.

3.  Dying for us is the model of ultimate love and possibly the key to resurrection.  A model for all.

4.  Every human being, in giving, caring, helping, reaching out to others, showing loving kindness is a practitioner of "dying" for others.  New Life follows that kind of dying too.  (think of the Easter model).

5.  He lives!  In us, as well as in the great beyond.  The love within us is Jesus' love.  It is giving Jesus when we love someone.