July 15, 2009 § 2 Comments
For quite some time, I have been ignoring, if not being indifferent, to the friendly gestures of a…friend. I do this because in one of our conversations, he accidentally slipped out something he did which I disapprove of greatly. Yet there is not one morsel of remorse when he speaks about it. Although it’s not a sin against me, I feel he has betrayed my faith in his goodness.
If I had known that about him, I would not have even treated him as a kindred spirit in the first place. I would have avoided him, not have anything to do with him. Obviously though, it’s too late to turn back now. I know I cannot ignore him, but for the longest time, I had no motivation to talk to him. I was still dealing with the ‘he’s not a kindred spirit!’ thing and the “umm why couldn’t I tell I thought you can tell when someone is a kindred spirit?” thing. Then I happened to read the following, and all these thoughts seemed pretty silly.
Kindness is a beautiful human attribute. When we say, “She is a very kind person” or “He was kind to me”, we express a very warm feeling. In our competitive and often violent world, kindness is not the most frequent response. But when we encounter it we know hat we are blessed. Is it possible to grow in kindness, to become a kind person? Yes, but it requires discipline. To be kind means to treat another person as your “kin”, your intimate relative. We say, “We are kin” or “He is next of kin”. To be kind is to reach out to someone as being of “kindred spirit”.
Here is the great challenge: all people, whatever their colour, religion or sex, belong to mankind and are called to be kind to one another, treating each other as brothers and sisters. There is hardly a day in our lives we are not called to do this.
(Henri Nouwen, in Bread for the Journey)
When God speaks, sometimes it’s not that obvious at first. God invited me in with the first paragraph, because I’m big on the ‘kind’ thing. I like people who are kind, very very much, just as I like people who exude baby blue 😉 When I saw the words “kindred spirit”, it occured to me that it might have been the spirit which had led me to read this. I must have been such an inpenetratable stubborn mule, so much so that God has to tell me to be kind to him, and tell me this in my very own language.
All along, my notion of “kindred spirit” has been someone you can connect with. But Nouwen has caught me. I select my kindred spirits. But he says EVERYONE is a kindred spirit. EVERYONE.
I feel so silly. I don’t have much time to be kind to everyone before I leave, but I’m wasting some of it being lazy, and some of it on being angry when someone has misplaced my trust, that I have mis-categorised someone as a kindred spirit. I need to widen my definition bit by bit, and I need to get moving.
Previously I thought I needed to get moving because I just didn’t like wallowing in the pond of laziness, but now I really see why I need to get moving. There’re some people I need to start bothering about, some people I need to spend more time with, burdens they shoulder I have to help bear. Many things.
After superserene has emerged, God gives her a to-do list.