Monday, November 9, 2015

"Commit simple acts of kindness"

I never really got that bumper sticker until late this afternoon when I went to Stop and Shop to get a mailer folder to send a tee-shirt to Kathy Haines in Washington DC.

Kathy and her parents were members of St. John's when I was there for all those 21 years. I saw her grow from a young child to a young woman. She finished college, did a stint in the Peace Corps, got at master's degree in public policy and is now in DC working for a non-profit that is seeking to eliminate homelessness.

I knew all along that she would turn out that way. She's an only child, like I was, and has some heartbreak ahead as her parents age. But for now she is fighting the good fight, trying to make a difference in the world, holding her own against cynicism and despair in the world.

She called me a few days ago to see if I had any of the St. John's Parish tee-shirts we had made back when I was Rector there.

In the middle of an adult confirmation class, this guy named Jim asked me: "what will we be after this class is over?"

And I told him, without hesitation: "Spiritual Rebels and Dangerous Mystics." Which is exactly what I hoped for. It is a phrase from my work with the Mastery Foundation. One of the designers of the course said that's what we should be shooting for in the Making a Difference Workshop--Spiritual Rebels and Dangerous Mystics.

So, we had tee-shirts made with the eagle of St. John's on the left front and that phrase on the back.

Kathy's mother had thrown her's away and here she was, a decade and more later, wanting one.

Good outcome there. I had a few and found the smallest one--Kathy is a tiny woman--which was still a Large but not x-large or xx-large like the rest I had.

So, I mailed it to her today, delighted she wanted to carry on the cause. She's a member of an Episcopal Church in DC--very left-wing and progressive--and is even on the Search Committee for a new Rector, she told me.

So I went to Stop and Shop to get a mailer folder for the tee-shirt and was behind an elderly woman (check last post--I'm still middle-aged!) who stopped to pick up a Stop and Shop handout someone had thrown away in the parking lot. She put it in the trash and I followed her inside and tapped her on the shoulder.

"I just wanted to tell you that I know you're a good person for picking up that paper. A hundred people had probably walked past it before you picked it up," I said.

She grabbed my hand and blossomed. She was almost, I believe, near tears. "Thank you so much," she said, "for saying that. Sometimes I wonder if anyone notices the things I try to do to  make the world better."

That woman and Kathy, doing things to try to make the world better. Kathy's task of doing away with homelessness in the nation's capitol is certainly more daunting than picking up trash. But none the less, both woman are making an effort few make.

Commit a simple act of kindness every day. I now get how much a difference it can make.

And be a Spiritual Rebel and Dangerous Mystic as well--that would make a difference all around....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.