Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

Friendship Cruise Control

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”Thomas Aquinas

My parents (who are in their late 70s) were 8 hours into their drive to the west coast to board a cruise ship to Mexico when they realized that they failed to pack their passports. My stepfather, who takes everything in stride, said they’d circle back home to get them and start the journey over.

Turns out, that wasn’t necessary. After a brief phone conversation on a different topic, close friends of theirs presented a solution that my parents hadn’t imagined possible. The friends said they’d retrieve the passports and meet them halfway.

Dennis and Margery didn’t just empathize with my parents’ situation or float an offer; they stated how they were going to help. So, they rearranged their plans and drove 8 hours that day for a round trip with the sole purpose of getting their friends back on track.

Thank you, Dennis and Margery, for growing love! 

Thank you, Mom, for telling me this story with such joy.

It seems that it is in these unexpected incidents of profound kindness, when we are so moved by experiencing first hand the strength and depth of friendship, that we catch a glimpse God’s love. A love on which we can rely, even when we don’t realize doing so is an option.

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.” -Thomas Aquinas

Categories: friendship, Grow Love, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, The Gift of Gratitude, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

See (and do)

There are needs all around us, intertwined into the framework of our daily lives. Do we see them or do they simply blend into the background of life?

Some see- really see- and spring into action to help. Some view the action and contemplate all the better, more expeditious ways the spring to action should happen- yet remain stagnant, not actually doing anything. Fortunately, we have people among us who demonstrate that good works result from seeing and doing. Here are two shining examples.

Recently Christine heard from an employee about a local family in significant need. The single mom was very sick, with 3 kids about to start the new school year, and had little in the way of food or money. Christine, a busy wife, mother and business owner, paused in order to see. She responded. One heartfelt post on Facebook – with details of when people could drop off donations to her business – set the wheels of love in motion. She helped others see and they responded to her spark. Donations and further offers of help abounded.

New to the neighborhood, Cindy made an effort to get to know her neighbors. She met a single mom who left for work with her school age children at a time when other kids were rolling over in their beds  for 2 more hours of sleep. The neighbor was doing the best she could to manage her home and her job as a school bus driver. Cindy, even though she was involved with her own work, family, and a special cause, saw. She responded and now ushers the children onto their buses at their appointed times. A straightforward example of matching a resource to a need, when one is willing to really see.

Two people in one community chose to see a need, and pulled it in from the fringes, front and center. They made a difference; they grew love.

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. –Letter of James 2:14-18

Categories: Grow Love, like ripples on a pond, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, on any given day, see | Leave a comment

A life’s lesson in building bridges

Libby Norris built bridges.

While her day job was as a Watershed Restoration Scientist, one wonders if she knew she was actually a top-notch Social Scientist as well.

Would she have said that a core element of our lives is “social capital”- the value of our social networks- who you know, how you are connected, and what happens as a result of these networks? That success is when members do for each other without expectation of anything in return? That there are those who bond with people with similar interests and lives, while others expand and build bonds to bridge (seemingly) conflicting interests? Did she know that the latter takes far more effort and courage?

If she did, she didn’t shrink from the challenge. Libby built bridges.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF.org) posted “Quite simply, thanks to Libby’s good work, today there are more healthy rivers and streams, more fish, crabs, and oysters, and more clean water for all of us across Virginia.” Not the easiest bridges to build – from cattle farmers to watersheds. “Libby worked tirelessly with farmers across the Commonwealth. She also got to know Bay watermen on remote Tangier Island, and hosted many farmer trips to Tangier as well as brought watermen to the Valley to meet farmers. She instinctively recognized that these two groups had more in common than they did differences and sought to build shared understanding.”

The young athletes around Williamsburg will tell you she helped them bridge frustration and disappointment by illuminating that “it’s all a learning experience.” Fellow parents of athletes will share that she helped them bridge a knowledge gap of the sport, as well as how to replace nervous energy with pure enthusiasm.

Her peers will tell you she “got out of the truck.” She didn’t ponder a situation for too long; she dealt with it head on. She got out of the truck and got it done. She bridged thought to action.

Her friends and neighbors will tell you she just “was” – a reliable, genuine friend. Her encouragement helped many bridge self-doubt to the fulfillment of an ambition. Earning a Masters degree, becoming a coach, being more confident as a mom, and becoming an Outdoors Woman, to name a few. Her (perhaps EMT inspired) response time to a friend in need defied logic.

Her ready smile reminded us it was possible all along – to be a great parent, spouse, child, coach, athlete, citizen, scientist, coworker, friend, human being. Lucky for us we can see special versions of that smile in her two greatest accomplishments, her daughters. She bridged the next generation, and her laughter-ready husband will sustain the joy.

Here’s what the social scientists say at bettertogether.org, “We build social capital by creating new ties and strengthening old ones. These connections may increase individual well-being and opportunity by linking people more strongly to their local community and to larger societal resources. Or they may build community by strengthening bonds that link community members or by bridging divisions between them. The new ties may be formal, like a club, association, or civic institution, or informal, like a group of friends talking or colleagues collaborating. There is no limit to the number of specific pathways to social capital creation. How to build social capital in each community, family, block, or neighborhood is best left to community-based groups.”

Many felt it was “best left” to Libby with her “can do” approach. Now, it’s left to us.

Libby Norris planted the seeds of optimism and confidence within us. Because of her legacy, Libby continues to grow love.

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with the simplicity and sincerity of God, [and] not by human wisdom but by the grace of God”. (2Cor 1,12).

Categories: Grow Love, Just Be, like ripples on a pond, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, time talent treasure | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The Kindness Curriculum

What many of us remember about middle school may not be a direct correlation to growing love. We recall the rollercoaster ride of changes, the fickle world of popularity, and daily fluctuation in figuring out what really matters. All immersed in the study of reading, writing and arithmetic. Continue reading

Categories: Grow Love, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness, The Kindness Curriculum | Leave a comment

Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

A random act of kindness – the moment we capitalize on an unforeseen opportunity to be kind in some way to someone else. It can be as simple as letting someone ahead of us in line, holding the door even when the person is several steps behind us, or giving an unexpected compliment, smile, or greeting. Ideally, the random act is paid forward by the way the recipient interacts with others throughout the day.

And then there are those who not only embrace the opportunity to perform a random act of kindness, but diligently plan them – leaving no question that kindness will occur. Here are two shining examples. Continue reading

Categories: Grow Love, Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness | 1 Comment

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