Thought for the week: Kindness and Community

This weekend was near perfect.  After errands on Saturday, we spent a very rainy Saturday evening with great friends, a crockpot recipe, and nothing on the agenda.  On Sunday, we awoke to a cloudless blue sky and highs expected near 75 - perfect.  Even better though, was that Sunday was the first time in my adult life that I have experienced what it means to feel rooted in a community. 

I've been blessed to have communities of friendship or family everywhere I've lived in my post-college, "adult" life.  Charlotte and Chapel Hill both yielded (and strengthened) friendships that I wouldn't trade for anything.  However, there was always a reluctance to become too rooted, too settled.  You see, these places were temporary for us.  Each had an expiration date, and though I'm not proud of it, we were cautious about growing too attached to a place where our days were numbered and finite.  

The move to Jacksonville has proved difficult in many respects, but it has ultimately yielded an unexpected and wonderful gift; the gift of true community.  An inkling of this gift has been rumbling around in my head for a few months now.  On Halloween when (literally) hundreds of kids and families came to our door - it was a treat to see so many familiar faces and to meet the unfamiliar.  On Christmas Eve, our doorbell rang every 30 minutes on the dot with neighbors and friends dropping by with cards, cookies, or just to say hello.  Then this Sunday the inkling became clear, and I realized we were part of this community.

On Sunday, we attended a service at the neighborhood church.  My cousin was confirmed, and I was her sponsor.  This doesn't really matter, except to say that we sat at the front of the church with the other confirmands, while the rest of our family was scattered throughout the remaining pews.  E has been fighting a fever, so she slipped out after the confirmation and before communion, leaving me alone in the pew at the front of the church for the end of the service.  It was during these last few minutes that it happened.  As the congregation recited the Lord's Prayer together, I felt someone reach for my hand.  It was an older woman, a fixture in the Jacksonville community that I was familiar with after growing up here.  It was in that simple act of reaching for my hand during the prayer (which I should note is not the general practice), that solidified the sense of community for me.  

Perhaps the experience was overblown because of a beautiful church service, maybe it was the near perfect weather, or it could even be that I didn't get as much sleep as usual last night.  Whatever the reason, that act of reaching out spoke measures and has me thinking about the impact that small, simple acts can have on others.  If holding my hand during a prayer meant so much to me - someone surrounded daily by family, friends, a puppy, a loving husband, and more blessings than I can count, what could it mean to someone who really needs to feel like part of a community?  The person without friends or family to connect with?  The new kid or family at your child's school?  The person trying to hold it all together who is just hoping to make it through another day?  

Though not every act may will produce such an immediate impact, kindness adds up over time to make a difference and shape a community.  And so I leave you with this list...

original list via


1 comment:

  1. I love this post! One of my favorite quotes is: "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." by Leo F. Buscaglia.