I’ve been thinking about Kindness a lot lately. Quite frankly, I believe our world could use a lot more of it. We are living in a time when our political differences often result in behavior that is not just cruel, but often dangerous. Perhaps acts of kindness are the antithesis of a practice that can change attitudes and bring much-needed joy into both our own lives, and the lives of others.
Engaging with kindness seems so simple, and yet, the simple can be overlooked in a world of busy-ness, political divisiveness, and social media distraction. Perhaps those very things can prompt us to live out our faith with small acts, one at a time.
Busy world? Make a valentine during RE Class or Coffee Hour and send to folks who can use a smile. (I’m starting to receive the most wonderful thank-you notes from recipients of Follen’s RE Friendship Day bounty!)
Political divisiveness? Contact a loved one you disagree with politically and pay them a genuine compliment.
Social media distraction? Donate the cost of a Latte to a “Go Fund Me Account” for something that speaks to your heart, but perhaps you are removed from… a neighbor’s cousin is raising money for surgery, or a teen is trying to go on a self-planned trip to South America to do service work. It’s amazing what a small donation by many people can support!
Perhaps you’ve been a recipient of a random act of kindness by a stranger, yourself. The kindness of a stranger is an act that is both personal and universal. It’s personal because it is directed toward US and our needs; it’s also universal in that it is a gesture that points to the essential connectedness of humanity. We are living in a time of history that sorely needs us to remember that connectedness.
Unitarian Universalism challenges us to put our beliefs into action. Our faith development programs explore what those beliefs are and how they inform our actions. I invite you and your children into a practice of random acts of kindness. These small acts, mindfully done, can serve as a reminder to get out of our heads and schedules, and be more present to others. They can help us heal this broken world, one person at a time.
Here is a random list of possible acts for you to consider. I hope that you take me up on this challenge, whether you do something on this list, or come up with something completely different. Have fun making a difference!
Random Acts of Kindness- Possibilities for a Month of Joyful Connection:
- Shovel a neighbor’s driveway or car when it snows
- Pay for a stranger’s library fees
- Smile and make silly faces at a child in a public area.
- Help a senior with their groceries
- Fill up someone’s “Free Library” station with good books.
- Walk a neighbor’s dog
- Babysit for free
- Plant a tree
- Do a favor without asking for anything in return
- Take someone new in your neighborhood/ town on a tour of the city
- Show the new kids around your school
- Compliment a stranger on something other than their clothing
- Learn to say hello in a different language to different people
- Prepare a meal for your family… or someone else’s
- Donate your old clothes to CityReach via the church collection
- Offer to take care of someone’s pet when they go out of town.
- Put money in the meter for someone whose time has run out.
- Let someone go ahead in line
- Spend time with an elder friend
- Bake something for the local librarians or firefighters
- Use chalk to write love messages on the sidewalk for neighbors
- Put friendly notes in books for someone else to find
- Invite a friend you haven’t seen for a while over for coffee
- Thank your teachers (or your child’s teachers)
- Snap a photo for a couple or group of people
- Give someone a gift card that you don’t intend to use
- Leave a generous tip
- Help a friend with moving a large item
- Offer to give a friend a ride home
- Take the time to listen to someone
- Paint a rock and leave it for someone to find
-Beryl Aschenberg, Director of Religious Education