By Barb Arland-Fye
While scrolling my Facebook feed, I stopped to reflect on a simple but powerful graphic on kindness posted by Holy Family Parish (with churches in Riverside, Richmond and Wellman). The graphic shows a large circle. A statement above the circle reads, “Why You Should Be Kind To People.” The circle’s center represents “Someone’s Life.” A dot-sized circle beneath that message represents “What You Know About It.”
Viewing that message caused me to reflect on encounters with others — at the office, on assignment, at home, in church, at a business, city hall, on my bike or a walk or at a restaurant. Did I treat each person with kindness? Did the tone of my voice and my body language convey kindness? Were the words I selected in conversation kind? Did all of my email messages offer charitable responses? Did I offer encouragement or complete a task for someone? Practicing kindness is a work in progress!
Kindness, woven into the fabric of mercy, is evident in the homily Pope Francis gave on Divine Mercy Sunday (April 24, 2022) at St. Peter’s Basilica. “Let us ask ourselves whether of late we have helped someone suffering in mind or body; whether we have brought peace to someone suffering physically or spiritually; whether we have spent some time simply listening, being present, or bringing comfort to another person …” Whenever we do these things, the pope said, we encounter Jesus. “From the eyes of those who are weighed down by the trials of life, he looks out at us with mercy and says: Peace be with you!”
St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “We show love by thoughtfulness, by kindness, by sharing joy, by sharing a smile … Through the little things,” which begins at home (Words to Love By). At the Fye house, we have plenty of opportunities to observe and practice kindness. Our older son Colin is one of the kindest people I know but the anxiety that is a byproduct of his autism sometimes tests our family’s resolve to be kind to one another.
While he anticipates visiting his grandparents and godparents this Thanksgiving, that visit represents a significant change in routine. For the month of November, he has been trying to cope with that anticipated change by repeatedly asking the same questions about the visit, even though he knows the answers. Kindness, in this case, looks like using a calm voice, not snapping or overcorrecting, but accepting and acknowledging Colin’s need for reassurance.
Sometimes we fail to be kind to one another even without the autism factor. When we are overly tired, hungry, worried about work, volunteer activities or doctor’s appointments, we tend to forget to practice kindness. Bringing these challenges to prayer can help us build on our kindness muscles.
The name of Daniel Abrahams, a marketing expert from Sydney, Australia, appears in small type along the left side of the big circle in the kindness graphic, which appears on his LinkedIn social media page. He also writes a daily blog that he describes as “Bite-sized inspiration to challenge your thoughts, broaden your perspective and inspire you to live your best life” (https://www.danielabrahams.xyz/
blog/hurry-up-and-be-creative). Kindness is front and center.
I am grateful to Holy Family Parish for discovering that graphic and posting it on Facebook. The parish often posts such messages, which seem like a form of prayer, reminding us to show love through kindness.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at email@example.com)