Friday, December 1, 2017
This past summer an older camper got pneumonia and had to be kept away from activities and other campers. He was a very good camper but was bored to death in the infirmary. I had an extra room in my home so I offered him a private room and bath, TV and internet access so that he could have some peace and rest, but also a little time to entertain himself and not have to watch all the campers having all the fun at the camp.
My action was not calculated, it was rather impulsive. I felt compassion for this young man and helped him for a couple of weeks by letting him live in a vacant room. In truth I spent little time with him except for the meals I would bring him and the few minutes I spent with him the day he left.
But the gratitude his family has shown me since I helped him has been humbling. Again, what I did cost me very little time and energy—-it seemed to simply be the proper thing to do. But the kindness his family showed me with the recent dinner in their home, etc. reminds me that small acts of kindness can leave long lasting feelings of approval and deep affection. I thought in my own life about the times people have done small things for me that I have never forgotten them—-they represent “embossed” memories to me and I am better person because of some of the unheralded little acts of kindness shown to me.
Do any of us show kindness enough? It makes the world such a better place. My entire time in France this week I cannot think of one single action that was unkind to me. Despite what you may have heard about the citizens of France, I have not received a lack of kindness anywhere except in Paris—-but the same might be said of New York or Washington, DC.
But as I have recently accepted the task of raising three boys, I am keenly aware of the other side of the coin in terms of the “little things” we do to others. If it’s true that a little kindness can make your day, then a little meanness can ruin your week! I have come to see, first-hand, how unkind words, thoughtless remarks, disapproving glances and scowling faces can enter a little boy’s mind with such destructive power that it will take substantiallly more kind words, reassuring remarks, loving glances and spontaneous acts of approval to undo the damage! The bad things we say to people seem to be far more “potent” and far reaching than the good things!
Saint James talks about the tongue and the challenge of controlling it. I am still learning that I do NOT have to always say what I think at the moment (unless it’s positive!) and that just because it is true does not mean it is helpful or an act of Christian compassion and love to say it. I wish that some of those that I love very much could have been saved sooner from hearing the things that still haunt them. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”.
It does not take much to bring about appreciation and gratitude—-just a little spontaneous time and some words of kindness. But it takes less to damage a child and leave them afraid and unsure for years to come by speaking carelessly and unkindly.
Pray that all of us at our camp may choose to speak, act, and react in love.