Kindness leads to empathy, compassion

Happy Friday!

Thank you for letting me pop back into your email for another reminder to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week!

I hope you have found a way to share goodness with others. And maybe if the world is lucky, you don't just share kindness on this one week of the year. One of the hashtags on social media for Random Act of Kindness Week is #makekindnessthenorm

Imagine if everyone could do one kind thing a day. Just like a pebble in a pond, the ripple effects of that one kind deed could be enormous!

I am reading Fr. Greg Boyle's third book about Homeboy Industries, The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness. His program is the largest and most successful gang-intervention program in the world. It gives former gang members a place to heal and work, right along side rival gang members. The stories make your heart ache for these street toughened, tattooed young people who were on the streets because their home life was so challenging.

The first time Moises sat in front of Fr. Greg's desk, he said, "So, your'e a father, and these are your children. Now I will tell you why I came into your office." He paused, leaned forward and gripped his face with his hands, holding back the tears. " your son?"

And the most amazing answer came back. "Imagine what a gift it would be, to have a son like you!" That was the ONLY thing Moises ever wanted from his father.

It is easy for us to judge those around us who look different or act differently. We judge those on the street corner, or the ones who live in tents in our city limits. We judge those who have multiple piercings and tattoos. We judge others by the clothes they wear, their body type, their color, their sexuality, their political party. We make decisions about the physically and mentally disadvantaged, those in wheelchairs, those with mental illness. I find that on the days I am most judgmental of myself, I am most judgmental of others.

The world doesn't need our judgement. God is the only one who can make such judgments and how lucky we are to have a God who loves us because God is good, not because we are good! (Richard Rohr)

So if we leave all the judgement for God, and just decide to be tender with one another, then we can begin to see the world fill up with kindness. It takes a willingness to enter another's life, something we are once again learning to do as the threat of a pandemic is waning. It takes a willingness to be a witness to another's story, to ask about the journey, not to fix their pain, but to hold it in a healing space. It takes us time to learn empathy and compassion. This is what the world needs.

So we start with random acts of kindness. We check our judgment at the door and share kindness because it is right thing to do. It is the gift we can give. And eventually, when we are tender enough with ourselves, and with others, we recognize that the greatest power is love.

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