Kindness, like spring, lifts us

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So this morning I’m lying on my back looking up through the trees after my yoga practice. I see the limbs are full of new baby leaves just stretching themselves open in the breeze.
Beyond the branches the sky is an amazing blue with a few wisps of high thin clouds floating by. I close my eyes and listen to the sound of wind. In the distance, I pick up the peck, peck, pecking of a woodpecker hard at work. A duck quacks out on the lake and the cat lying beside me rolls on her back and starts purring.
As I sit up and open my eyes, I see a large gray Heron glide over the water and land at the edge in the grass. It lifts long legs walking along dipping its head perhaps catching its breakfast.
A fish breaks the surface of the water and lands with a loud splash and for a moment that catches the attention of the Heron. The water ripples as the wind blows across the surface and I hear the sound of wings as the great bird lifts to disappear over the trees.
The whole world is stirring to life on this first day of spring and I feel myself a part of it all, just happy to be alive experiencing the moment. It is in these quiet peaceful minutes that I do my best pondering. I think about and wonder about the mystery of being alive — the eternal question of why am I here.
Maybe we don’t say it aloud but I think it is a question we all ask. It’s one that has come into my head a lot recently with the loss of my mother-in-law. The other day my father-in-law showed me something he found as he was going through a box of old treasures and it offered an answer for me.
He handed me a little booklet made from colored construction paper. You know the kind that we made in school, pages cut to the same size and then stapled together. It was a thank you made for my mother-in-law by students she took care of when she worked as a school nurse years ago.
The students each had a page where they expressed their appreciation for her. I laughed when I read that one wrote about how much she enjoyed being in sickbay that year, not something you usually think of as being a fun thing.
All of the children who created this thank you booklet wrote about how much my mother-in-law meant to them. Some of them called her a substitute mother. Others thanked her for listening and helping them with their problems.
They wrote about how she taught them to crochet and about how they would never forget her. And they wrote, “I love you.”
That book and those words came to mind today as I sat feeling the breeze, celebrating spring and pondering why we are here having this experience of living. Who knows what impact the kindness of a school nurse had on the lives of these children. Maybe just her being there, listening and caring at that time in their lives, changed their lives for the better.
And that, I thought, is why we are here — to participate in acts of kindness big and small. It doesn’t take wealth, years of education, great physical strength or beauty to be kind and caring to another human being.
Kindness is like the gift of this beautiful first day of spring, an experience that is free for all of us to share and something that lifts us up as surely as the wind beneath the wings of that great gray Heron.