Growing a garden of kindness

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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After writing weekly columns for over four years, I have a few thoughts about our society from people’s responses. I have written stories about death to abundant life, depression to fried chicken, and every topic in between. However, when I write about my grandmother, or a pie that heals, or God’s goodness, my computer lights up. 

People are in a desperate search for human kindness. They crave goodness, fellowship, compassion, and understanding. My column several weeks ago, “The Healing Power of a Homemade Pie,” was inspired by the comic strip, “Stone Soup,” in the Sunday paper. Once the story was finished, I sent it to the cartoonist’s creator, Jan Eliot, who lives somewhere on the west coast. Never expecting to hear from her, it was only a short time later when I was surprised by her response.

“I read the column you wrote three times, and I so appreciate you taking my cartoon and honoring my work with yours,” Jan began. 

When the story gained a national audience, I heard from folks throughout the country. From a comic strip to a column, to meeting authors, readers, and many others, I concluded, human kindness is like a seed planted deep in the earth. If you water it, take a bit of time to care, and clear the weeds, there is no telling how much beauty will rise from the soil and spread.

Many years ago, I was an interior designer based out of a large department store. A man was beginning his cross-country campaign to gain support for his first presidential race. On a sunny southern day, he was scheduled to speak to a crowd gathered in the parking lot from a lower roof of our store. I gathered my things for the meeting but required several wallpaper books near the other end of the store from my office. As I walked to retrieve them, I was in such a rush, I didn’t notice the first of several Secret Service agents until one grabbed my arm.

“Ma’am, you can’t go any further because we have blocked this section off for safety.”

I pleaded with the gentlemen that I desperately needed the books for the most relevant meeting of my young career. I begged.

“Ok, but hurry,” he acquiesced. 

My heart was racing as I grabbed the books, came out of the aisle running, and dropped them all when I stopped abruptly as not to run into or over Ronald Reagan. The books fell at his feet, and the secret service swarmed. After realizing I was not shot, I repeatedly said, sporting a bright red face, “Sir, I am so sorry, I was in such a hurry.”

Governor Reagan laughed, leaned over and began stacking the wallpaper books in my arms before the agents started helping. He assured me he was fine and joked about me slowing down. Perhaps, real power is found in compassion and not in winning a race. God is the caretaker who tends our gardens, but we are the ones who should always supply the water. If each of us helps Him, maybe our fields will be ripe with fruits of kindness and love. So, perhaps the search for kindness and curing a lot of ills is in filling our water buckets. 

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God,” said President Ronald Reagan.