Loving Kindness

28 01 2014

loving kindnessIf my daughter was going to get a tattoo, there are far worse things she could have inked on her body for all eternity! Surely the world could use an extra dose of ‘Loving Kindness,’ so why shouldn’t she have the phrase emblazoned on her rib cage?  It’s certainly better than another piercing; one which this time would probably NOT have been in her ear!

Actually, it’s a perfect tattoo for my daughter – one of the kindest and most loving people I know.  And it’s also a great reminder of that to which we all should be giving our lives. For again I will say it, if the world needs anything today, it is loving kindness!

Every now and then I catch a glimpse of it, and when I do, I wonder why it is so elusive! It’s so wonderful to see, to encounter, and to receive, that you’d think everyone would be doing their best to make it more of a reality, in more of our lives. But for some reason, hatred, anger, and violence appear to rule the days in which we are living.

Never the less, it’s out there.  I saw it in the young college kid who waited on my wife, and my daughter, and me when we had lunch in Blacksburg, VA a while back. When I went to order a piece of the Almond cake for dessert, he smiled at me and said, “The Almond Cake is a few days old. I’d skip it if I were you!”

I saw it in the eyes of the woman who checked me into my hotel room last week, when she offered me a fresh, warm cookie as I left the registration desk . . . two even, if I wanted!

I saw it in the passing face of the guy who had to slam on the brakes of his car in order to keep from hitting me, when I made a wrong turn in an unfamiliar part of town, and wound up in the wrong lane. He graciously smiled in a way that said, ‘No problem. I’ve made that same mistake before too!’

I see it in my favorite baristas, who make my “English Breakfast tea latte with skim milk and three pumps of classic” in all three of my favorite Starbucks.   (And don’t judge me!)  I see it in the people I work with: who love what they do, and who do what they do with dedication, enthusiasm, and with a constant smile on their faces.  And I see it in my wife, all the time; as she graciously puts up with my many idiosyncrasies, and loves me unconditionally.

Loving kindness really is everywhere; but we doubt that, because we don’t see it.  And we don’t see it, because we’re not looking for it.  So this week, might I suggest that we all look for the loving kindness that is all around us.

You see, I believe in the words of that old hymn – “This is my Father’s world.”  I don’t really regard God as my father anymore, but I do believe that the world is God’s!  And as such, it radiates divinity.  Holiness is everywhere, and it is warming the hearts of people of every faith, transforming the minds of people of every nation, and moving in the souls of people of every generation.

Maltbie Davenport Babcock, the author of the hymn, grew up in Western New York, near where I did; and his walks along the Niagara Escarpment gave him inspiring views of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario.  It is said that when he would leave the house and his wife asked him where he was going, he would respond “to see my Father’s world.”

This is indeed God’s world; but I’m convinced that often we fail to see it because we’re not looking for it.  We’re blinded by the corruption and selfishness of those in power. We’re distracted by the evil of those with hateful tongues and violent hands.  And so our days are fraught with everything but, loving kindness.

But we can change that.

And we can change that by looking for the signs of God’s commonwealth all around us. We can notice the smile of the stranger.  We can turn toward the grace of some, and away from the judgement of others.  We can choose to dwell not on our neighbor’s brokenness, but on their beauty.  And we can seek to surround ourselves with people who have a similar view of the world around us.

Today, this week, the rest of this month — let’s change what we’re looking for, and thereby change the narrative of our world.  Let’s notice the fingerprints of our Creator and Sustainer, and spot the loving kindness that lurks in every corner of creation.  For if our lives need anything, it is more loving kindness.

And it’s out there . . . and we will see it . . . if we look for it.

 

 

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