be kind

May 7, 2016

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In two separate occasions today I was moved to tears by words I heard. The first came while I was at work, manning a station for a weekend bazaar held by our school. In between “customers”for my lime-on-a-spoon game, I spent a good deal of time just standing and watching people. I was rather melancholy today, and so found it easier than usual to just let my mental to-do lists go while I took in the activities surrounding me. I watched the children, and families, milling about, and I wondered about the lives behind it all . . . wondered about the souls contained by each of these bodies. Periodically, a little one would come up to me for either instructions or, more often, a “request” for another sticker or stamp, as most of my players had already been through the routine numerous times. I would demonstrate the ginger holding-of-the-spoon and then, a few minutes later, would bequeath a smile onto a little hand or wrist, in the form of either a pink circle of ink or a rainbow-hued sticker. I would return to human interaction for a bit, then, kid gone, resume my musings. In the midst of the musing, I was caught off guard by a song that came through the speakers of the background playlist: it was a Carrie Underwood song that I first heard when I was asked to sing it for the troops in Kabul. I was on the worship team at the time, for Camp Eggers. I didn’t think that much of the song at the time but now, suddenly, I realized that it holds surprising power for me. Some combination of the memories surrounding that time of my life along with my present struggles left me instantly teary-eyed at the wafting sounds of “Jesus take the wheel.” I spoke the words to myself for some time after the song finished. It came out as a prayer, which is exactly what it was. “Jesus take the wheel. Take it from my hands. I can’t do this on my own . . .”

Later in the day, once the bazaar was finished, I heard a quote that is simply called an epigraph, due to the uncertain source. Some attribute it Ian McLaren, who would have said the words around the time of World War 1, but as far as I can tell no one is certain. When I heard it mentioned in a podcast, however, the words had a similar effect to the song I’d heard earlier. “Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” The tears return as I write the words now, fresh with the poignancy of the week.

I have felt broken by my own inadequacies lately, and weary of my inability to do what I want to do, or to be who I want to be. Yet even as I have been feeling that brokenness, I have been overwhelmed by gratitude for people who have stepped into that mess that is me, and who have done great acts of kindness. Hope has been given. Lord help me to pass that hope along. May I bear others’ burdens, as others have born mine. May I be kind.

*This photo came from our Spring Break medical mission in the village. Somehow, it seemed fitting . . .

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