February 11th begins “Random Acts of Kindness Week”. I came across an article on this blog by John Park, entitled “Compassion that Heals” that is reflective of this theme.
Compassion as variously defined is an active
desire to alleviate the sufferings of others;
but unlike empathy, it often takes form in action.
– John Park –
In the recent film, Cloud Atlas, the main theme was also about kindness superseding the seeming dominance of cruelty and evil in the world…….
Many years ago, I had a job driving a “site clearance” truck for a home builder in Calgary. One day, I had the truck about 1/2 filled – not full enough to close the cargo area. I was making a left turn during the 5pm traffic rush when my cargo “shifted” and fell out of my truck – almost perfectly centered in this huge intersection. I parked my truck in a parking lot right there, and just gazed at my load in the middle of the intersection – actually trying to figure out how I could even get to it in this traffic. The cars were “a mess” trying to navigate it, and each direction had at least 4 lanes of traffic.
I was in a panic, but even in the chaos of my thoughts I reached out to God. My thought changed speedily as I calmed down. I just knew God would see me through this. The traffic literally stopped and it seemed as if every car door opened with people running out to help me get my load back. Everyone was helping carry my cargo to my truck, and within minutes everything was back inside. When I look back I see a surreal picture of people – many in suits, and on the way home, tired from a days work, thinking solely of how they could help clear the road in a helpful and kindhearted manner.
When I went back to my truck I was stunned to notice that my cargo was placed EXACTLY as I had placed it originally. In the intersection, not a scrap had been left behind. I remember saying aloud – thank you God – and soaking in that perfect picture. I remember sitting in the truck a few minutes to feel the “wow” of the moment.
Thinking about kindness and compassion, I am reminded about David’s Psalm 23, which talks not only about protection, but also the ease and natural way it manifests itself.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want … he leads me beside quiet waters … he restores my soul .. (h)e guides me in paths of righteousness … I will fear no evil … (y)ou prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies .. surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life …
Cloud Atlas makes a case that whenever you express and bring good acts into reality – it leads to the unfolding of that reality to others. This is perhaps symbolized in the “rescue machine” in the movie looking like an unfolding blossom when it was activated. Are we not birthing our future by setting into action the “goodness and love” David talked about?
Random Acts of Kindness Week brings me a great opportunity to afford time to take notice; to make sure I am actively engaging in God’s caring goodness around me. As John Park concludes – compassion when acted on brings healing to friend and foe, and “hints at a unity of all life that we should share that fellow feeling in caring for our neighbor – even our enemy.”
Glenn Laycock is the Committee on Publication for Manitoba