The Practice of Kindness

When we moved into our neighborhood, there was an empty field next to our cul-de-sac. I suppose it was only a matter of time before our neighborhood started growing, just like everywhere else in the city and suburbs. Now, part of our daily routine is to walk over to look at the tractors.

IMG_6768At least two or three times a day, Elle likes to check on the progress. The workers have become enamored with her and have even offered to let her drive the tractor, whenever she’s ready. (The verdict so far is that it’s too scary!!)

We wave, say hi, and make friends. It’s a small act, but every day a smile seems to make a difference and the men love asking her questions and telling me about their own kids. They invite us to look at their progress and tell us where to stand for the best view of the giant machines at work.

Yesterday, we were walking home from school and the girls got into an argument over an umbrella. Elle threw herself on the ground and Bea sulked off toward home. I kept an eye on Bea and was finally getting Elle situated when Bea rounded the corner. By the time we got home, I couldn’t find Bea anywhere.

She wasn’t in the house. I called out back. I ran around our cul-de-sac. I asked the workers if they had seen her. They immediately stopped what they were doing, hopped in their trucks, turned the flashing lights on, and patrolled the neighborhood.

As it turned out, Bea was sitting in the side yard, “taking a quiet moment.” I ran back to the construction site to let everyone know that Bea was found.

This had me reflecting on the practice of kindness. My first inclination isn’t to make friends with random workers nearby. But, they’ve been our neighbors, in a sense, for the better part of a year and will be around much longer. I love that Elle came to look at tractors but created a friendship in the meantime.

It’s made me think about natural relationships that I may be overlooking. Who are the moms I see frequently at the park? What about taking time to get to know the checker at the grocery store who opens his aisle specifically for us? (Elle has a way with strangers!) How am I showing kindness, loving my neighbor, getting to know them a bit more?

I just finished taking a class about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. I have a lot of thoughts swirling around but one takeaway was remembering the practice of kindness. It’s hard to vilify someone you actually know. It’s hard to demonize people you share dinner with or talk with about your kids. When we intentionally practice kindness, even to those who seem to be an enemy, how does our perspective shift?

I’m a fan of the underdog and tend to side with them first and foremost. But I’m learning to stop, to listen, and to remember to show kindness, even when it seems too difficult.

I suppose kindness is like most things in life. It seems to come easily and naturally to my kids, who rarely see strangers for long. It becomes more and more difficult, the older and “wiser” I get. It takes practice to reintroduce this requirement.

Perhaps showing kindness to an enemy is just too much right now. But showing kindness to the construction workers down the street might be a good place to start.

Where can you practice kindness? Is there a tangible place you can stretch yourself a bit?

BackyardThis post is Day 19 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

9 thoughts on “The Practice of Kindness

  1. You really have touched a nerve in me with your series. All of it. Fantastic, thought provoking, stimulating – this one is touching on my recent experience with Hurricane Irma. In the face of the aftermath I was taken by all the acts of kindness and the coming together of community. I wish that togetherness would last. Neighbors helping neighbors, talking and sharing. It did not used to be so unusual. I recall it as a kid. The Jewish family, the Mormon, family, the Muslim family, the Vietnamese immigrants, Mexican immigrants… it didn’t matter, we all lived together and watched out for each other. Thank you for reminding me. I need to start at least stretching in my neighborhood. I’ll start on my little circle.

    1. I love this image of your neighborhood… It is a shame that it takes a natural disaster to bring us together…. I’m wondering how we can create sustainable relationships?

      1. That is one of the biggest issues we have today. I believe it needs to happen. Soon. We are so divided that I see that local and personal dialogue can spark change perhaps from this space it can grow outward.

  2. I work at a middle school and have thousands of opportunities to practice kindness during the day. It is not always easy but I really work hard to make my students feel cared about. I truly believe that kindness is one of the things that can completely turn the world around if it was highly valued by more people. I wrote a bit about being kind on my blog as well this month.

  3. This is adorable! I have a little sister who is very much the same… she has never, ever met a stranger. She loves people with a passion, is not afraid to connect or share every joy and trial of her life to those who show any kindness to her, and has touched a lot of people. She used to take rocks into the grocery store when she was four, and pass them out to people, and they all loved it, it was the most precious thing. And I just loved that y’all have blessed these workers so much that they would go to so much trouble to make sure your little girls came to no harm!
    Blessings in Christ,
    Bri from forget-not-his-benefits.blogspot.com

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