If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went —
Then you may count that day well spent.
But if, through all the livelong day,
You’ve cheered no heart, by yea or nay —
If, through it all
You’ve nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face —
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost —
Then count that day as worse than lost.
~George Eliot “Count That Day Lost”
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
~Naomi Shihab Nye from “Kindness”
I tend to forget – in my own self-absorption – the privilege I have to help make the world a better place for someone else each day — to share a drop of sunshine in some way. Each morning I’m given another chance to treat the day like the gift that it is and hand it off to someone else in a continual “pay it forward” act of kindness.
Only kindness makes sense in this fallen world. We have been steeped in sorrow for so long. I don’t want to lose one more day to anything less than a depth of kindness and comfort that never leaves my side, still present as the sun goes down into darkness.
Only such Loving Kindness will raise the sun again in the morning.
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One thought on “A Day Well Spent”
You are so right, dear Emily.
Kindness is the one antidote to the madness that is sweeping our world, especially in our nation under the present curse of hatred and slaughter of the innocents. That — and deep, heart-rending prayer — raising our empty hands to Him, on our knees, in deep supplication. It is ONLY our turning to Him, in trust and in love (as did the ancient Hebrew Prophets in similar circumstances) that will stave this frightening onslaught.
Kindness can take all manner of sincere acts and intent in our every day circumstances as we meet fellow sisters and brothers (or silent, anonymous giving to one in need). Even deep, knowing, accepting eye contact together with a smile, can bridge hurts and deep suffering that is often borne alone within a stranger’s being. The love and understanding that we carry in our souls – where He
resides (per His eternal Promise to us), will show us the way, give us the words, or a knowing smile, that confirms a hurting person’s need to be SEEN as one who is truly not alone.
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