Sunday, January 13, 2019

6 Qualities of Kindness

6 Qualities of Kindness
“You are very kind,” I said to him at last, sounding to my own ears like a character out of an 18th century novel, but the words were not all politeness. They were sincere and what I truly thought of him."

This is what Carol, the main character of Lessons of Blackberry Inn, says to Mr. Fortesque after he confides in her with his startling words of appreciation.

Fireplace Screen - I admired. By a local Pennsylvania artist.
The word "kind" is rarely used in conversation today. It is not a word that normally comes to mind. "Nice" has replaced it.

In a day when virtue and manners were customary in polite society, such as in the days of Jane Austen, I'm guessing the word “kind” was not so rare.

Accidentally buying 2, Yolanda gave me this board book. 1 is for her baby.
"Nice" in Jane Austen's day, according to an 18th century dictionary, once meant "fastidious" or as Samuel Johnson put it: "superfluously exact." Although "nice" has changed, the meaning of "kindness" has not. Still; it simply isn't used much. Is the word too quaint?

Some of us have been attempting to bring it back because sometimes "nice" isn't a nice-enough.

Therefore I use "kind" whenever the situation calls for it in writing or conversation - even if it is within an email or an on-line comment. No matter how quaint or archaic it sounds, I like it.

What is kindness?

1. Kindness is born of love.
The ministry of kindness is to make everyday life pleasant and comfortable for others.

"Beauty is quietly woven through our ordinary days . . . Everywhere there is tenderness, care, and kindness, there is beauty." -John O'Donohue

2. A kind person (such as a protagonist described for us in a good novel) is often God-fearing.
He is:
. . courteous
. . thoughtful
. . obliging
. . considerate.
He shows kindness by refraining or speaking,
. . by his manner,
. . regard,
. . words,
. . acts.

3. Kindness does no bargaining.
There is no backward glance to see how an act of kindness is benefiting self (bolstering himself up to a higher position to ask – or expect - something he wants in return).

My Amish neighbor prefers outdoor chores to indoor ones, she tells me. 
4. Kindness is not show-off-y.
We never mention a kindness we have done, or advertise our good deeds. We seek a better reward – one waiting for us in heaven.

5. Kindness keeps no record of wrongs.
It doesn't balance the books. When we are truly being kind we don't even remind ourselves - “I've done this-and-that for so-and-so, and now see how little he thinks of doing for me?” Worse still, “Nobody cares. With all I do I'm not even recognized.”

Trying out some textures, but undecided about my next project. 
These pitfalls are all avoided simply. How you ask?

6. By being unaware that we are doing anything special. We don't even know we are being kind, it has become so much a part of our nature. To practice kind living we are - in the words of our Lord Jesus - to “Let not thy right hand know what thy left doeth.”

England's poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) tells us:

That best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.

I Cor 13:4; Matt: 6:1; Matt 6:3
Charlotte Mason's book Ourselves helped me come up with my outline.

Kindness in an Old Novel

A story I enjoyed recently was the (1891) novel The Little Minister by J. M. Barre, free on Kindle. (J. M. Barre also wrote Peter Pan.) It is set in Scotland, 1840, with colloquial dialects of the locals. Among its sentimentality and dialog, weather conditions produce some startling action near the end of the story. Kindness is on these pages; kindness guided by the Christian worldview. It is the fruit that forms friendships and eventually draws two unlikely people together.

It was because the Man-of-the-House and I watched the old movie "The Little Minister" (1934) with Katherine Hepburn, and I found it curious and sweet, that I picked up the novel - and - because two old books I was reading at the time coincidentally and curiously mentioned the story. The movie condenses the novel yet captures the gist of the story well. The novel gives us more background to the characters than the movie, such as the minister's sweet mother, and several others who deeply care about the minister's well-being.

"Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than necessary?"   -J.M. Barre

Until next time,
Karen Andreola