Column: Looking for kindness in all the right places

A while ago a follower reached out to suggest a column idea.

This happens occasionally and 99 per cent of the time it’s a total bust.

Planting the seed of a column in someone else is a bit like expecting another person to have your baby.

It’s just weird and it comes out not looking like you at all.

Years ago in Ontario, a good friend did just that.

After having four children with her husband she chose to be a surrogate for her cousin, who was unable to become pregnant.

Think about that sacrifice for a minute.

Of all the things I would lend a friend, my uterus is bottom of the list.

(According to my donor card it’s free for the taking at some point, although not sure uterine transplants are a thing and in any case with four kids of my own even describing this organ as “in good used condition” would be stretching it.)

Giving the gift of life has got to be one of the most selfless and generous acts imaginable.

And that is a convenient segue back to the original point about the reader and her column idea, because she wanted to see something in the paper about kindness.

She expressed concerned about what she perceived to be a growing level of negativity and complaining in our community and felt it would be refreshing to talk about the good and often unseen gestures happening around us every day.

In all likelihood this thoughtful person was suffering from TMSM (Too Much Social Media). On any given hour in Princeton BC you can hop on Facebook and roll around in the mud on the local issues pages.

Nonetheless the word “kindness” went up on the whiteboard in the office as a possible topic for a column.

And then nothing happened for several weeks.

Zero fertilization.

Another great woman in my life, a former teacher and current priest with the Anglican Church of Canada, once remarked that writing a newspaper column had to be a lot like writing a sermon.

She told me that when she has difficulty putting together a homily she takes whatever Gospel verse is on the calendar and just lives with it – meditates on it, keeps it front of mind as she goes through her routine.

So that is what I did with kindness.

Kindness. Breathe in. Kindness. Breathe out. Kindness. Kindness. Kindness.

And something pretty amazing happened.

A man brought carrots into the office.

They were extras from the farm, fresh and organic, and we all shared them. Mine went home and into the soup pot.

Later that same day a woman who volunteers at the hospital thrift store chased me down in the parking lot and pressed a jar of homemade apple sauce into my hands. She said she had so many apples this year, she wanted to make extras and give them to people she appreciates.

That afternoon an email came in, a nice compliment about the paper. (Compliments about the paper aren’t quite as good as food, in as much as you can’t eat them, but they are very nourishing for the spirit.)

There are about four dozen Spotlight subscribers who pick up their papers in our office, rather than have them delivered in the mail. Two dears that drop by each week are well into their senior years but they are newlyweds – they just celebrated their first anniversary – and so in love and so affectionate.

On a day when one isn’t meditating about kindness lovebirds can be downright nauseating.

But when kindness is the mantra, you have only appreciation. They don’t leave the office without giving everyone here a hug. He’s 83 and hugs like a bear. Sometimes he even straightens my spine.

They do it, they say, because people don’t get enough hugs.

Maybe people don’t get enough kindness, either. Or maybe they just need to look for it harder.

On reflection – from the carrots to the free chiropractic care – it was a pretty normal day.

Not sure it looks like me – but that’s the sermon for this week.

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