Nothing quite like an act of kindness

Published 7:30 am Saturday, April 9, 2022

“Hey, who are you?  What are you doing?”

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

I heard those words while sitting under a cross on a hilltop in North Carolina awaiting July 4 fireworks. My husband had struck up a conversation with some people sitting beside us. Like my husband, one of the men was a minister. I shivered a bit in the mountain coolness, but what the preacher was saying held my interest.  He had recently accepted the pastorate of a small country church. He soon noticed that a faithful member of the congregation always arrived at church alone. When the preacher asked her about her husband, she answered that he wanted nothing to do with the church. She warned him that her husband told her not to send the preacher to see him.

Soon afterward the preacher was out visiting church members and drove near the couple’s home. He saw the husband clearing out roots on his land for planting. The preacher pulled over and began grubbing some distance from him. After a while, the husband noticed him.

That was when the preacher informed him that he was his neighbor. Numerous times in the next few weeks, he stopped by and grubbed on the opposite of the field where the husband 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 that morning, so around noon, they pulled out their sack lunches and sat down to eat.

The preacher bowed his head and gave thanks to God for the food. The husband looked at the preacher and asked again, “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 the church, gave his life to Christ.

I was impressed by the way the new preacher just began grubbing quietly, performing an act of kindness without a word until the man questioned him.

Washington Irving, an American diplomat of the early 19th Century, American short story writer, essayist, biographer, and historian, explained acts of kindness 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.”

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

We don’t have to grub roots for weeks in silence to perform acts of kindness. Sometimes it is just a gentle pat on the shoulder, a card or letter, or a telephone call to let someone know you care; that you are a neighbor.