GENDUSA COLUMN: Growing a garden of kindness
After writing weekly columns for over four years, I have a few thoughts about our society from the reader’s responses. I have written stories about death to abundant life, depression to fried, and every topic in between. However, when I write about my grandmother, or a pie that heals, or God’s goodness, my computer lights up.
People are in a desperate search for human kindness. They crave goodness, fellowship, compassion, and understanding. In other words, they are all looking for hope that our world will turn away from judgmental attitudes and hypocrisy. They pray that bullying will somehow magically disappear and that truth will always be triumphant.
My column several weeks ago, “The Healing Power of a Homemade Pie,” was inspired by the comic strip, “Stone Soup,” in my Sunday paper. Once the story was finished, I sent it to the cartoonist’s creator, Jan Eliot, who lives somewhere on the west coast. Never expecting to hear from her, it was only a short time later when I was surprised by her response.
“I read your column three times, and I so appreciate you taking my cartoon and honoring my work with yours.” Jan began.
How lovely and sweet, I thought, but her kindness didn’t end there. When the story gained a national audience, I heard from folks throughout the country.
From a comic strip to a column, to meeting authors, readers, and others, I concluded, human kindness is like a seed planted deep in the earth. If you water it, take a bit of time to clear the weeds, there is no telling how much beauty will rise from the soil and spread.
Every one of us has different opinions regarding every topic I could possibly opine on. Still, the subject we can all agree with, is that kindness is the key to living in harmony with one another. God called us to do so and lay down our swords of bias, mockery, and arrogance.
Years ago, I was an Interior Designer based out of a large department store. A man was beginning his cross country campaign to gain support for his first Presidential race. On a sunny southern day, he was to speak to a crowd gathered in the parking lot from a lower roof of our store. I was aware of the event, but I had an important meeting with a client about the same time.
I gathered my things for the meeting but required several wallpaper books near the other end of the store from my office. As I walked to retrieve them, I was in such a rush, I didn’t notice the first of several Secret Service agents until one grabbed my arm.
“Ma’am, you cannot go any further because we have blocked this section off for safety.” I pleaded with the gentleman that I desperately needed the books for the most relevant meeting of my young career.
“It won’t take me, but a second – I promise. I will grab what I need and be out of your way before you know it!” I begged.
“Ok, but hurry!” He acquiesced.
My heart raced as I grabbed the books, came out of the aisle running and dropped them all when I abruptly stopped as not to run into or over Ronald Reagan.
The books fell at his feet, and the Secret Service swarmed. After realizing I was not shot, I repeatedly said, sporting a bright red face, “Sir, I am so sorry, I was in such a hurry!”
Governor Reagan began to laugh, leaned over, and started stacking the wallpaper books in my arms before the agents started helping. He assured me he was fine and joked about me slowing down.
Perhaps, real power is found in compassion and not in winning a race. Goodness is always seen with a helping hand and not a fist. Kindness is discovered by taking a moment to respond, and not in those who never answer.
God is the caretaker who tends our gardens, but we are the ones who should always supply the water. If each of us helps Him, maybe our fields will be ripe with fruits of kindness, empathy, and love.
So, perhaps the search for kindness and curing a lot of ills is in filling our water buckets. “Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.” President Ronald Reagan.
Lynn Gendusa of Roswell, Ga. is the author of “It’s All Write with Me! Essays From My Heart.” Contact her at www.lynngendusa.com.