Small acts of kindness can improve day

Published 3:26 am Saturday, June 1, 2019

Have you done an act of kindness today? Washington Irving, an American short story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th Century, expressed it well: “How easy it is for one benevolent being to diffuse pleasure around him, and how truly is a kind heart a fountain of gladness making everything in its vicinity to freshen into smiles.”

Mary Ann Evans, pen name George Eliot, an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era, wrote “What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?”

The quotations reminded me of a story a preacher told my husband and me one night awhile we sat under a cross on a hilltop in North Carolina awaiting July 4 fireworks. I shivered a little in the mountain coolness, but what he was saying warmed my heart. He had recently accepted the pastorate of a small country church and wanted to get acquainted with members of his congregation. He noticed that a faithful member of his church came to church alone. He asked her about her husband. She answered that he wanted nothing to do with church. She warned the preacher that her husband had told her not to send the preacher to see him.

Soon afterwards the preacher was out visiting church members and drove near the couple’s home. He saw the husband clearing out roots (grubbing) on his land for planting. He pulled over and began grubbing some distance from him. After a while the husband noticed the preacher. “Hey, who are you? What are you doing?”

“I’m your neighbor,” the preacher said. “I’m helping you grub.”

Numerous times in the next few weeks, he stopped by and grubbed always on the opposite of the field from where the owner worked. One day the preacher asked him if he ever went deer hunting. When he said he did, he invited him on a hunt the next day. They had no luck by noon, so they took their sack lunches and sat down to eat. The preacher bowed his head and gave thanks to God for the food.

The man looked at him. “Who are you?”

“I’m your wife’s preacher.” He reached over and took the man’s hand. “Let’s pray together.” Within the next few minutes, the man who wanted nothing to do with a preacher or a church gave his life to Christ.

One day I was feeling down, pondering what I thought was an unsolvable problem. When I went to the mailbox, a cheery card from a dear friend and former co-worker was inside. I think God laid it on her heart to let me know she was thinking about me. The card lifted my spirits. I pushed away negative thoughts of my problem with assurance that God and others care.

Sometimes just a gentle pat on the shoulder, a card or letter, or an encouraging phone call can change our perspective for the whole day.

Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter.