Over the last few months I have read or heard several times that the world is becoming a more selfish place. It set me thinking— is this true? Or is this simply a media image? Perhaps, because doom and gloom incidents make better headlines!
My awareness was raised. I decided to start to notice kindness, as an antidote to selfishness. I was amazed. Once kindness starts to be noticed it is all around. Mostly it is little acts of kindness, things that before awareness was raised would have gone unnoticed.
Today, is the third Sunday of Advent. The third candle—the pink one— is lit. It represents joy. A reminder that even in a solemn season of preparation, joy can be found. Joy and kindness are deeply linked.
This week at work a small boy was engaged in making a flower out of beads. He worked hard and long during his breaks for two days. When it was completed he announced that he was going give it to an older child. He had noticed the other child had seemed unhappy. It was a small act of kindness. As he found the older child and presented his gift her face broke into smiles and she hugged him. His act of kindness brought joy to another.
The lectionary reading today gives some hints about acts of kindness, which I’m sure would bring joy to others. The text (Luke 3:7-18) is a story of John the Baptizer talking to the crowds, warning them that their lives need to change. John gives three examples which can be useful when exploring kindness,
The first example is, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise” (11).
The second illustration is about tax collectors. They are told “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” (13).
The third reminder is “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages” (14)
As I read these three principles I saw acts of kindness illustrated which would bring joy to others and to self . . . generosity, sharing, honesty and satisfaction with one’s life.
For me, noticing kindness has been an interesting and fruitful exercise. I would recommend it. Noticing kindness daily in all the small things brings much joy.
I wish everyone a happy and joy filled third Sunday of Advent.