“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
I attended another training session for Faith in Action-Alabama last night. The meeting went three and a half hours. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate meetings? My whole day had been a sprint, and the last thing on earth I wanted was to sit in a meeting all evening. I got lost in the church parking lot. It is one of those massive Southern churches with about eight thousand members that even has its own parking deck, for God's sake! All the doors I tried were locked, and I ended up in a pristine columbarium garden surrounded by dead people. The temperature outside was 97 degrees. To say I was in a foul mood by the time I found my way in is a monstrous understatement. Absolutely nothing in me wanted to be there. And then I met Eva.
Eva is a woman a little younger than I, who grew up with seven brothers and sisters, and lived for most of her childhood in a housing project with a single mother. Her grandmother looked after the Eva and her siblings so her mother could work in other people's homes and raise other people's children. By the age of seven, she was taking care of the house, and cooking for her little brothers and sisters. Eva grew up, had three children of her own that she managed to raise, educate, and keep out of harm's way. She told me of the four-block-out-of-the-way journey they took, on foot, to the nearest grocery store, to avoid the white neighborhood, where they were not welcome. She worked in nursing care facilities, and in people's homes, and when her children were grown, she went back to school and got a degree in nursing. Last year, she took early retirement to recover from breast cancer. From the beginning to the end of her story, there was nothing but kindness and generosity in her voice, or on her face. Her story was not a lament, it was told with pride and honesty. It melted my heart.
The questions that arise in my mind around all this: Why are we still having this conversation in 2016? Why are there still human beings who are struggling to be considered equal and worthy? It seems to be something that humanity could have, and should have worked out by now. The only solution is to have the same kindness and generosity that Eva brings to the world every day. I hope I can muster even half as much.
In the Spirit,