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Acts of (un)Kindness Stick, Also

We speak of how an act of kindness sticks in our memory. But . . . acts of unkindness also stick.

A writer tells of going down a lane with a nursemaid in England when two village children ran out and shyly offered him some wild flowers they had plucked. He remembers bitterly how he haughtily rejected the flowers from the children and ran to take the hand of his nursemaid. When he looked back, he saw the two children still standing and looking at him, with tears running down their faces. He remembers that. Undoubtedly, they remember it, too.

On the other hand, another man long ago will not forget this: A bus was crowded in a Southern city, and the Black section of the bus was overcrowded, so a white Texan invited the man who was standing to share his seat in the white section. The bus driver objected and the Black man got up to leave. But the white man, in protest, stood up with him, refusing to be seated while the Black man stood.

In Japan, it does something to you, while traveling by train, to hear music over the loud-speaker as the trains pulls out. Then when you arrive at your destination, over the loud-speaker a voice graciously says,  "You must be tired. We are sorry the train is two minutes late. Please see that you have left no parcels. Good-bye." It makes you feel that there is something more to traveling than the mechanics and logistics of it. As you wash your hands in the train lavatory, there is a bunch of fresh cut flowers, probably carnations. These touches affect you. A lot of it is superficial, but superficial or not, it nevertheless puts a good taste in your mouth.

I smiled once at a little girl and boy as they came through the train in Japan, and then they came through the car again and again to get another smile — and give a bigger smile.

Paul, looking back upon the shipwreck experience on Malta, remembered one thing especially: "The natives showed us uncommon kindness" (Acts 28:2).

Dear Father, help me today to search out someone who needs my kindness and give it and give graciously. Amen.


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