. . .and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
This is one of the first Bible verses I remember learning at church. I was probably 5 and I am sure it was at Vacation Bible School. The part we memorized was . . .be kind one to another. Through the years I have, in turn, helped many children learn this same verse. Such a simple
verse, not one which requires great intellectual understanding—indeed, it is a verse even young
children can understand. Unfortunately, as we get older we often forget this verse, but if we read about the ministry of Jesus we find that Jesus lived his life simply being kind to people.
Last week I passed a school and on the marquee out front were two simple words “Be Kind.” Nothing earth shattering, simply, “BE KIND.” I thought about that sign all day—if only, I thought. If only we could practice kindness—would it make a difference? The sign made me think of the many times others have been kind to me. Some of you may have heard my favorite story which clearly demonstrated for me the power of kindness.
In the summer of 2005 Terry and I were anticipating the birth of our first grandchild. We were so excited, but I was also anxious because Sara, our daughter, lived in Indiana. I was advised by American that having a frequent flier ticket would probably be best because I could change the ticket at any time, as often as needed, without paying any extra fees. One morning Sara called me on her way to work and said, she had an odd little cramp—could it be labor? I talked with her later in the day and asked if the odd little cramp was still there?
“Oh, it isn’t very bad she said.”
BUT at five o’clock in the afternoon she called and said,
“Well, I am not sure if it is labor or not but I still have it.”
“Call the doctor and I will call and check on my options with the airlines,” I calmly replied.
It was only 5:00 in the afternoon and I confidently thought — “I will have no trouble changing my ticket—how many people could be flying to Indianapolis on a Tuesday evening?” When I called American I was immediately connected with a woman I believe to be the sister of Attila the Hun. I explained my dilemma—of course everyone in the world would think the arrival of my first grandchild was as important as I did.
She said, “There is a flight at 5:40”—I explained I lived in Fort Worth and could never make it in time. “Well,” she said, “there is a flight at 7:40 but it is overbooked and there is a standby list.”
“Can I please be on the standby list for that flight?”
“No,” she replied, “you can only go standby if you have a ticket for today.”
“What can I do, is there any other way I can get on a plane.?”
“No, I could put you on the 5:40 flight and then you could be on the 7:40 standby list.”
“Oh, that would work, will you change my ticket for 5:40?,” I asked.
“Oh, that flight just dropped off the screen, can’t do that,” she says nonchalantly.
I quickly asked, “What can I do?"
“Nothing,” she says, “except change you ticket for 7:30 in the morning."
“Seven-thirty in the morning!” I shouted, “My grandchild might make an entrance into the world well before then. Isn’t there anything else I can do?”
“No, there is nothing else to do,” she said with an air of finality.
Her speech was short and abrupt—no hint of kindness. The longer I talked to her the more upset I became. After moments of distress and anger, frantically not knowing what to do, I decided to call again. The person who answered the phone on my second try sounded kind and helpful. I once again explained my predicament.
“Oh,” she said, “you need to be there.”
“Can you put me on the 7:40 standby list?”
“Well, let me tell you the rules,” she said. “You have to have a ticket for today if you want to be on the list, but if you go to the airport and talk to someone at the ticket desk they have the authority to put you on the list anyway.”
“So, going to the airport is the best thing to do?”
“Yes, she said. I hope you get on the flight. God bless you.”
She didn’t say that much but she was kind and helpful. It made all the difference for me. I didn’t get on that flight. I went at 7:30 AM the next morning. Thankfully, our grandson, was in no hurry to get here so I made it in plenty of time.
It doesn’t cost us anything to be kind—it doesn’t even take any more time to be kind— and when we offer kindness to others we usually feel better, as well.
I think I will try it this week—will you join me?
How We Can Help Children Separated from Their Families????
Catholic Charities here in Fort Worth is already housing some of the children separated from their families. Last week's Bread Lines lists all items needed to create a welcome box for each child—this coming Sunday is the last day for bringing supplies for the boxes. We will deliver all we collect the first week in August.