Home Grown Parting Thoughts

Cultivate Kindness

As I sit down to write on the theme “Home Grown”, the ground outside is covered in snow and temperatures are hitting record-breaking lows. This is not the kind of weather a farmer wishes for, but no matter the weather outside, something that can always be cultivated is kindness.

Every weekday morning I start my day with the local and national news, just so I’m aware of what’s going on around me, in an effort to be an informed citizen. Often the stories are upsetting, but thankfully, newscasts frequently offer an inspiring story to encourage us on our journey. Those feel-good stories permeated the news, both local and national, in the holiday season. It’s my hope that all those good gestures and tales of kindness and generosity don’t end with the holidays.

I credit my parents with being examples of kindness, and my grandparents before them. It’s an example my parents continue today. My dad always holds the door for the person behind him, often greets strangers with a hello or a kind word, and he still seats my mom at the dinner table by pulling out her chair for her after 52 years of marriage. Together they’ve invited the neighbor or elderly widow who didn’t have family nearby to join our family for holiday dinners. And even though they don’t have pets themselves, they recently found a stray cat dying from respiratory illness outside their home, so they took it upon themselves to gently deliver that cat to the Humane Society so that it wouldn’t suffer any longer.

Kindness, goodness, generosity are different words with the same sentiment behind them. Examples of goodness are all around us. Kindness can happen in small ways such as holding the door for someone, letting the person with just a few items go in front of you to check out at the store, complimenting a stranger or just offering a smile or a hello. Simply listening to someone is one of the best things you can do. You can thank your mail carrier or your children’s teacher. You can shovel your neighbor’s portion of the sidewalk after it snows.

Other ideas for kindness include giving blood or raising money for or donating to a charity. You could bake cookies or make dinner for someone going through a rough or busy time in life. You could take hot cocoa to the school crossing guards on a cold day. One of the most inspiring stories I heard on the local news told of a man who paid off all the overdue lunch accounts at an elementary school.

With January behind us, perhaps your new year’s resolutions have gone by the wayside. But every new day can be an opportunity to give kindness a try. If you’re looking for a momentous occasion to start, consider Valentine’s Day. Put a Valentine in the mail to someone you know who is alone, or simply to tell someone that you appreciate them.

As the prayer of St. Francis says, “It is in giving that we receive.” 2016 was undoubtedly a tumultuous year in the news. I invite you to join me in a campaign for kindness, for it can only help to make this world a better place.